Narcy Novack, brother guilty in killing of hotel heir
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In the end, Narcy Novack didn't want to hear it.
It had taken a White Plains federal jury 16 hours to convict her and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, of orchestrating the attacks that led to the grisly murders of her millionaire husband and mother-in-law to inherit the family fortune.
But after the panel of eight men and four women sent out a note at 11:45 Wednesday morning saying they reached a verdict, Narcy Novack refused to be in the courtroom. She was in a holding cell as the jury pronounced Novack, 55, and Veliz, 58, guilty of racketeering for hiring hit men to attack Ben Novack Jr. at the Rye Brook Hilton in July 2009, and his mother Bernice Novack in her Florida home three months earlier.
Novack Jr.'s late father built the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, and his estate is worth about $8 million.
"These are pretty deplorable people. I'm glad it's over," a male juror who declined to give his name, said of the defendants.
In a 15-count indictment, the only charge they were cleared of was the felony murder of Novack Jr.
While the jury determined that they caused Novack Jr.'s death, they were acquitted of the murder itself because prosecutors could not convince the panel that the murder was committed during a robbery.
Prosecutors contended that Narcy Novack had given the hit men Novack Jr.'s gold bracelet with diamonds that spelled out his name "Ben" after his murder. Juror Danielle Daly, however, said she believed that the bracelet was handed over to make the killing look like a robbery.
"It was never proven that it was a robbery," the Yonkers juror said after the verdict.
Still, Daly said, "I have no doubt" that Narcy Novack wanted her husband of 18 years dead.
Narcy Novack feared that Novack Jr., who was having an affair with 40-year-old ex-stripper and porn actress Rebecca Bliss, was planning to divorce her, prosecutors said, adding that a prenuptial agreement would have left the divorcee with a mere $65,000.
Narcy Novack, an ex-Florida stripper herself, and Veliz, who lived in Brooklyn, hired confessed hit men Joel Gonzalez and Alejandro Garcia to beat Novack Jr. with barbells and slit his eyeballs with a utility knife in his hotel suite. Novack Jr. died as a result of the pounding he took from the two men.
In April 2009, the defendants hired Garcia and Melvin Medrano -- who has been deported to Nicaragua -- to pummel Bernice Novack to death with a wrench in her Fort Lauderdale home.
Narcy Novack and Veliz, both of whom have maintained their innocence, face life in prison without parole when they are sentenced on Nov. 1.
Veliz, who had frequent outbursts during the nine-week trial, remained calm and silent as the jury forewoman read the verdict to a packed but hushed courtroom.
Narcy Novack decided she did not want to face the jury when the verdict was read. Dressed in orange jailhouse garb, she refused to directly address U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas when he asked if she was voluntarily giving up her right to be in the courtroom.
She cupped her hand to her lawyer's ear.
"She whispered in my ear, 'Yes,'" lawyer Howard Tanner said.
She was then led out a side door by deputy U.S. Marshals, leaving jurors to do double-takes as they eyed her empty chair when they filed into the courtroom about 12:20 p.m.
"We walked in and were like, where's Narcy," Daly said.
It was only the last bizarre twist in a two-month trial littered with outbursts -- in and out of the courtroom -- from Narcy Novack and Veliz. Karas twice issued gag orders after Narcy Novack and Veliz granted jailhouse interviews to News 12, and Veliz blurted out various statements in court.
The trial featured lurid testimony and evidence about Novack Jr.'s sexual proclivities, including FBI documents that said he had a fetish for amputee sex and received deliveries of cocaine the size of baseballs. There were also allegations of a sexual relationship between Novack Jr. and his stepdaughter, May Abad.
The defense tried to paint the 36-year-old Abad -- Narcy Novack's daughter -- as the one behind the murders. Veliz's outbursts often included his contention that Abad had arranged the killings -- including one such exclamation during prosecutors' closing arguments. Neither side called Abad to testify, something jurors found puzzling.
"The one person I was surprised didn't testify was May Abad," Daly said.
Narcy Novack also did not testify, something that did not surprise jurors after watching Veliz testify, Daly said.
"Cristobal dug his own grave by testifying," she said. "He was contradicting himself and he was lying."
Defense lawyers who quickly left the courthouse after the verdict, said the jury had done a thorough job of examining the evidence.
"We put on our defense and the jury has spoken," Tanner said. "They were a conscientious jury."
Veliz's lawyer, Lawrence Sheehan added, "It shows that the jury was thinking about the case."
Daly called the deliberations "difficult." The panel was initially split on whether to convict Novack and Veliz for the murder of Novack Jr. But ultimately they decided there was no robbery.
The bracelet's disappearance was "to make it look like a robbery," Daly said.
Another male juror who declined to give his name said the trial and deliberations were "brutal."
"The whole thing was quite upsetting," he said.
In a post-verdict statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Narcy Novack and Veliz, "will now have to answer for the blood of Ben Novack and his elderly mother ... two gruesome, sadistic, and ultimately fatal attacks, along with a catalogue of other crimes."