Courts & Crime

FBI moves against murdered Florida hotel scion's widow

MIAMI — The FBI has turned up the heat on Narcy Novack, the widow of slain Fort Lauderdale millionaire Ben Novack Jr., seizing assets from his estate under federal forfeiture laws connected with financial fraud allegations.

Narcissa "Narcy'' Novack -- who is considered a suspect in his July 12, 2009, murder -- tried Monday morning to take title to several of his vehicles, including a valuable Batmobile replica made from the mold used to create the car used in the 1960s television series.

But a federal judge signed sealed warrants Monday allowing the FBI to confiscate the Batmobile along with other vintage vehicles and property.

Novack, 53, the sole heir to her husband's fortune, has been fighting for control of his estate since he was found beaten to death in their hotel room in Rye Brook, N.Y. She has been blocked from the estate by court order because she is under investigation by the FBI.

The warrants indicate that a Westchester County, N.Y., detective, who is also a member of an FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, believes he has enough evidence to show that Narcy Novack was involved in illicit activity for financial gain.

Last month, noting an "imminent'' federal grand jury probe into the murder case, Broward Probate Judge Charles Greene ordered Narcy Novack to post a $5 million bond before she could take control of the estate.

According to the court documents filed Monday, Novack is preparing to post the bond. Meanwhile, federal authorities in New York intend to seize the property within 10 days.

The case is now under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which has greater power than local police to seize assets and depose witnesses.

The Miami Herald was unsuccessful Monday in reaching Howard Tanner and Robert Trachman, Narcy Novack's attorneys.

After her husband's death, Novack removed the contents of three warehouses filled with his collection of Batman memorabilia, considered the second-largest in the world. She also tried to pick up his boat, which was stored at a local boat yard.

She continues to live part-time at the couple's home on Del Mar Place in Fort Lauderdale.

And in August, she entered her husband's safe deposit boxes, according to a sworn deposition given by a Bank of America vice president. When the vice president pointed out that Narcy Novack's name wasn't on the account, Novack promised to return later in the day to have her husband add her name, and was allowed access. She didn't mention that her husband was dead.

"You could argue that her walking into the bank to open the security box and telling them that's she's not on the card, and that her husband is home alive on the couch -- clearly, in my opinion, would be some kind of bank fraud,'' said Scott Wagner of Coral Gables, a maritime lawyer and expert on asset seizure.

The FBI is using a maritime and admiralty statute as the basis for their effort to seize the following property: a 1957 Ford Thunderbird; a 1962 Ford two-door coupe; a 1970 Jaguar XKE, Series II; a 2004 Cadillac Escalade; a 35-foot barge with two-level wood deck; and the Batmobile, which was crafted from a 1977 Lincoln.

The list includes 14 other items that were redacted from the court document.

The body of Ben Novack, 53, was found by his wife the morning of July 12. He had been killed execution-style after being tied to a chair in their hotel suite. The couple had been staying at the Hilton Rye Town hotel for an Amway convention Novack's company had organized.

No one has been arrested in the slaying.

Novack was the son of the late Ben Novack Sr., owner of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

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