WHITE PLAINS, N.Y -- . Cristobal Veliz, a 58-year-old ex-tour bus driver, lived in a small apartment in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, had a common-law wife in Brooklyn and wined, dined and slept with women from New York to Miami.
He claims he earned as much as $10,000 per bus trip in which he drove 50 or more people on tours to amusement parks, the nation’s capitol, historic Philadelphia and Niagara Falls.
Over the past two years, however, the balding, 5-foot-9 lothario has made his home in the Westchester County jail.
Veliz and his sister, Narcy Novack, 55, are accused of orchestrating the murders of Novack’s millionaire husband, Ben Novack Jr., and his mother, Bernice Novack, heirs to the Fontainebleau hotel fortune.
But Veliz on Tuesday insisted that he had nothing to do with the murders, he never met the killers until months after the crime and that he had an “excellent” relationship with his late brother-in-law, whose eyes were gouged out, allegedly at Veliz’s orders.
Testifying for the third day in federal court in Westchester, Veliz evaded Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember’s questions, snickered and even cracked a few jokes about his unusual relationship with his spouse, Laura Law, who had been ill and apparently looked the other way as he carried on with other women.
He testified he was close to his four sisters who all live in Florida, and his brother, Carlos, who lives in New York. He also claimed he was once tight with his sister Narcy’s daughter, May Abad. and her two older sons, one of whom he called “David,” when in fact, his name is Patrick.
And, he asserts that the two hired hit men, along with a young man he once considered a son, all lied when they told the jury that Veliz was the “boss” who planned the murders and paid them for beating and killing the Novacks.
Veliz said he has never been to the Rye Town Hilton in Rye Brook, N.Y., where Ben Novack Jr., was slain on July 12, 2009, even though his bank records, cell phone calls and credit card accounts appear to contradict his whereabouts in the weeks before and after the murders.
His explanation as to why his bank cards were used in Miami, Philadelphia and New York around the time of the murders was simple: Someone else had his car, someone else had his phone and someone else was using his bank accounts.
For almost four hours Tuesday, the jury listened as Dember laid out bank statement after bank statement, showing inconsistencies in Veliz’s testimony. A few of the jurors nodded off for brief periods of time as the trial lurched into its ninth week.
Both he and his sister, if convicted, face life prison sentences.
The two hired killers, Alejandro Garcia and Joel Gonzalez, both from Miami, previously testified that Narcy Novack let them into their hotel suite that morning and stood by as they pounded her screaming husband. Prosecutors say that she and her brother wanted her husband and mother-in-law out of the way so that she could lay her hands on his fortune, estimated at $10 million.
At the time of his death, Novack had been having an affair and supporting a porn star named Rebecca Bliss, and Narcy Novack feared her husband would leave her, prosecutors have said.
Novack, 52, a successful convention planner who lived in Fort Lauderdale, had been staying with his wife at the Westchester County hotel the weekend he was killed, managing an Amway business meeting.
Garcia said that Veliz not only hired him, but he also arranged for his transportation to and from New York, bought the five-pound hand weights he used to bludgeon Ben Novack and drove him and other prospective hit men around in an effort to find and beat Bernice Novack.
Bernice, the 86-year-old former wife of Fontainebleau hotel builder Ben Novack Sr., was found three months before her son was killed, face down in a pool of blood in the utility room of her Fort Lauderdale home.
Garcia said that Veliz hired him at the behest of his sister, whom he claimed had been sexually abused by her husband. He said Veliz told him that Ben Novack had once broken his sister’s nose and when she went to a surgeon to have it fixed, she also had been given breast implants without her consent. Garcia said Veliz told him that Novack was also a pedophile who had sex with amputees.
Veliz admitted that he knew about his brother-in-law’s sex fetishes, but didn’t tell anyone, especially Garcia, such personal information.
Instead, Veliz claims that it was his niece, Abad, who hired the killers, telling him that she wanted to cut off her stepfather’s testicles because he was so perverted.
But Garcia said he has never even met Abad, whose location is being kept secret by authorities. She has not been charged with the crime and passed a lie detector test.