Feds want wife's old complaints aired at NY trial

AP News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2012 4:05 PM
Feds want wife's old complaints aired at NY trial

Jurors hearing the case of a Florida woman accused in the killing of her husband should hear the strange complaints she made about him over the past decade, federal prosecutors say _ even if they're not true.

Those complaints included allegations that he kept nude photos of female amputees and arranged breast implants for his wife without her knowledge.

The wife, Narcy Novack, of Fort Lauderdale, goes on trial next month on charges that she arranged the killings of her husband, Ben Novack Jr., and her mother-in-law, Bernice Novack. Her brother, Christopher Veliz, of New York, is a co-defendant.

Ben Novack was beaten to death in July 2009 at the Hilton hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where his travel company had organized an Amway convention. He was the son of the founder of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

His 86-year-old mother had been killed in her Fort Lauderdale home three months earlier.

Prosecutors have said Narcy Novack orchestrated the killings so she could get the family estate, worth an estimated $10 million.

But in court papers filed ahead of a Friday hearing on what evidence is admissible, they said that greed was just one of "a host of motives" and that even statements going back a decade are relevant.

They said they want "to give context to the charges in the indictment and to give the jury the fullest possible picture of the relationship between Novack and her now-deceased spouse."

A call Thursday to Novack's lawyer, Howard Tanner, wasn't immediately returned.

Prosecutors want jurors to hear about a 2002 incident at the Novacks' Fort Lauderdale home in which Narcy Novack handcuffed her husband. The papers say bondage sex was "a mainstay of their marital life."

She then tied him up, blindfolded him, hit him and took off with thousands of dollars and other property, according to the court papers.

When she was questioned by police, she said she wanted to get away from him. She told officers about what she said were her husband's unusual sexual desires and showed them pictures of "female amputees posing in various states of undress," the papers say.

She also claimed that Ben Novack once broke her nose, then took her to a plastic surgeon for repairs. When she awoke from anesthesia, she said, she had breast implants.

The prosecutors say informants _ apparently including at least one of the killers _ will testify that they also heard "the tale told by Novack." In some accounts, they say, the surprise breast implants were the mother-in-law's idea.

One informant will testify that Veliz said Ben Novack "would give artificial limbs free to children who had sex with him."

The papers note that Ben Novack didn't press charges in the 2002 case, that Narcy Novack was never charged, that she never filed a complaint about the breast implants and that they remained married "for reasons best known to him." They say all that is irrelevant to the admissibility of the evidence.

Prosecutors also argue _ in discussing a claim by Narcy Novack that her husband was arranging sham marriages in an immigration scheme _ that it doesn't matter if the claim is true.

What matters, they say, is her "effort to have him prosecuted/incarcerated, and to get him out of the way."

The papers say allowing the bizarre claims wouldn't be prejudicial because the 2002 incident "is no more sensational or disturbing" than the killings of the Novacks. They point out that Bernice Novack, 86, was bludgeoned with a monkey wrench and Ben Novack's eyes were sliced with a utility knife.