An epic family murder saga ended Monday when Narcy Novack, wife of Fontainebleau hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., was sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
Three years after she and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, planned and helped execute Ben Novack and his mother, Bernice, the convicted killers, who had remained loyal to each other throughout the trial, made it clear their family ties would not extend to prison.
Veliz also received a life sentence during the federal court proceeding in White Plains, N.Y.
Each blamed the other for masterminding the murders, and their lawyers each asked the judge for leniency, claiming they were less culpable because the other sibling had pulled the strings.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas was not swayed. He called the crimes “vile.”
Novack, 56, a former Hialeah stripper, was convicted of 12 of the 13 counts against her; her brother was convicted on 14 of 15 counts. Both were acquitted of felony murder, which in a federal case requires the victim to be robbed as well as killed.
Novack did not attend the sentencing, but listened to her fate on a speaker in a room adjacent to the courtroom. Karas called her absence “a final act of cowardice,” according to those in the courtroom.
Novack, who ordered the hit men to cut out her husband’s eyes, now will see little more than the inside of a federal prison. She will spend her days in a prison jumpsuit and sneakers and sleep on a jail cot. Known as a late riser, Novack will be forced up at the crack of dawn each day to do chores, like washing floors and scrubbing toilets.
Her new life will be far cry from her jet-setting days of drinking champagne and having servants do her cooking and cleaning.
With her conviction, she loses all rights to the bounty she hoped to claim after the murders. While she was designated as the sole beneficiary of Ben Novack’s estimated $10 million estate, under Florida’s Slayer Statute she now forfeits everything. Karas also ordered that her personal assets be seized.
“She lived a life of privilege,” Karas said of Novack. “If she had a marriage she wasn’t happy with . . . she could have gotten a divorce.”
Novack, and her brother, 59, both natives of Ecuador, were convicted in June of plotting the July 12, 2009, killing of her husband, 53, son of the late Ben Novack Sr., who built Miami Beach’s storied Fontainebleau hotel. Narcy Novack believed that her husband was going to leave her for another woman and that she would be left with a fraction of his wealth.
Under Ben Novack Jr.’s will, his mother, had she lived, would have been appointed as curator of his estate and received $200,000 in cash plus $2,500 per month. Though Narcy Novack would receive the balance — and the bulk — of her husband’s property and money, Bernice Novack, 86, as curator, would have exercised great control over the purse strings. She probably would have made life difficult for her daughter-in-law, whom she once accused of trying to poison her.
Novack’s attorney, Howard Tanner, argued that his client should be sentenced to 27 years instead of life, claiming that her brother planned the murders. As he did during the trial, Veliz claimed that Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, engineered the killings, an allegation that prosecutors dismissed years ago. With her mother now convicted, Abad’s two grown sons are designated to inherit the estate.