WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There was a guilty verdict Wednesday in the high-profile suburban trial for the murder of Ben Novack Jr., the son of the man who built the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
Narcy Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, are charged with orchestrating the 2009 fatal attacks on Ben Novack Jr. and his mother, Bernice Novack.
The victim’s wife, Narcy Novack, 55, of Fort Lauderdale and her brother Cristobal Veliz, 58, are both facing heavy time in federal prison for staging the murders. Federal prosecutors contend that the pair was motivated by greed and jealousy, with Narcy Novack fearing her husband would divorce her and her lavish lifestyle. She sought to inherit her husband’s fortune, estimated to be as high as $10 million.
Speaking to CBS 2’s Lou Young, Juror No. 3 delivered his individual verdict on the case against Narcy Novack, 55, and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 58, in the conspiracy killings of her millionaire husband and mother-in-law in a bloody grab for the family estate.
“They are pretty despicable people,” the juror said.
Jurors convicted the pair after a nine-week trial in federal court, a huge case for local suburban cops.
“I’m just grateful for all that everyone did, including the investigators and the prosecutors,” Rye Brook Police Chief Greg Austin said.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime case, so we’re very happy,” Det. Terry Wilson added.
The prosecution said Narcy Novack paid Veliz to hire the killers. They allege she feared she would lose out on the family millions because her husband was having an affair and she had signed a prenuptial agreement.
Mr. Novack earned his money through Convention Concepts Unlimited, a company he formed after his father lost ownership of the Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach in 1978. The company sponsored hotel conventions, primarily for Amway Global. The Novacks were overseeing one such conference at the Rye Brook hotel on the weekend that he was killed.
The two killers allegedly hired for the plot, Alejandro Garcia and Joel Gonzalez, testified at the trial that it was Narcy Novack who let them into the couple’s suite at the Hilton Rye Town on July 12, 2009, and stood by for much of the brutal attack that followed. They said they pummeled the 53-year-old Florida millionaire with dumbbells, then bound and gagged him. Garcia said he then slit his eyes with a utility knife. He said he got his instructions from Veliz and Narcy Novack.
Garcia also testified that on April 4, 2009, he crept up behind Bernice Novack, 86, and beat her with a monkey wrench in her Fort Lauderdale home. Broward County coroners initially ruled that she died of at least one accidental fall. That ruling was reclassified as a homicide months later after Garcia began cooperating with investigators probing Ben Novack’s subsequent death.
Ben Novack’s wife was a suspect from the moment his body was discovered but never admitted guilt.
“If everything falls on me just give me the electrical chair and put me out of my misery,” Narcy Novack once told investigators.
Throughout the trial, Narcy Novack continued to paint herself as a victim of circumstance. She decided to wear an orange prison jump suit to court every day and refused to even sit in court when the verdict was announced. When the judge called her in to ask if that was indeed her decision she refused to speak directly to him, instead whispering her answers to her attorney. As they left court it was clear the jurors didn’t think much of her or her brother.
“Cristobal dug his own grave by testifying on the stand,” juror Danielle Daly said, adding when asked if she was surprised Narcy Novack wasn’t in court for the verdict, “We all wondered ‘where’s Narcy?’ But that’s okay.”
Sentencing is set for Nov. 1. Both defendants could get life in prison.
Narcy Novack never testified at the trial, but jurors did see the videotapes statement she gave to police when she told them “only a monster can do this kind of evil thing.”
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