Widow, brother charged in hotel heir death

July 8, 2010 3:09:39 PM PDT
The wife of a Florida travel executive who was beaten to death in a suburban New York hotel let the killers into the room and handed them a pillow to put over his face, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday. It was anything but a spur of the moment murder inside the Rye Town Hilton on a warm July morning, rather officials say it was an inside job, a family affair.

The indictment alleges a plot by Narcy Novack; her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 56, and Denis Ramirez, 36, both of Brooklyn; and Joel Gonzalez, 25, of Miami, who is a fugitive. They are specifically charged with conspiring to commit interstate domestic violence and stalking. If convicted of all charges, they could be sentenced to life in prison.

"We looked at this with an open mind and we had a broad view and as we followed the evidence that's how we proceeded with this case, we never focused on one person," said Chief Gregory Austin of the Rye Brook Police.

One person seemed to stick out, Narcy Novack, the wife of Florida businessman Ben Novack, Jr.

His father founded the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, and the 53-year-old ran his own multimillion dollar company.

The couple, who had a rocky marriage, came to Rye Brook last summer for a business convention, but Narcy had other things on her mind.

According to federal papers, on the morning of July 12th, Narcy let her brother and three others into suite 453 while Ben Jr. was fast asleep.

Police say the group bound and beat Ben Jr. to death, and held a pillow over his face to muffle his screams.

Initially Narcy told authorities she left the room at 7 and returned 40 minutes later to find her husband dead, insisting she knew nothing.

"Police and prosecutors working together uncovered nothing short of a diabolical plan by a woman who was intent on eliminating her husband and taking his fortune for her own," said Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County District Attorney.

The arrests have opened up another can of worms.

Ben Jr.'s 87-year-old mother Bernice was found dead inside her Florida home 3 months before Ben's murder.

It was ruled an accident, but some believed Narcy was involved.

Officials say they will now take a second look at that case.

"We're now at the beginning of the criminal process, having now unsealed an indictment and we're looking at a lot of possible things," said Preet Bharara, the US Attorney in the Southern District of NY.

Ben Novack Jr. grew up in the penthouse of the Fontainebleau. From a young age, he had a reputation for abrasiveness, and was an aggressive businessman, building his own business after his father lost the hotel to bankruptcy.

Court papers reveal an eventful marriage to Narcy Novack, a native of Ecuador, including bondage sex games and bouts of violence. They married in 1991.

In 2002, Novack claimed his wife orchestrated a home invasion robbery that left him tied to a chair for 24 hours. Narcy Novack claimed her husband once broke her nose.

Under her husband's will, Narcy Novack stands to inherit his entire fortune. If she were to lose the estate, most of it would go instead to her daughter, May Abad and trusts for Abad's two teenage sons.

(the associated press contributed to this report)