Courts & Crime

Florida's Novack murders: a tale of greed, sex, betrayal and brutality

Alejandro Guttierez-Garcia spent his boyhood years wandering the streets of Nicaragua before coming to Miami on a worker’s visa in 2005. With a dragon tattoo on his arm and a drooping right eye, Gutierrez-Garcia’s menacing face blended into South Florida’s criminal underworld. Within two years, he ran up a daunting rap sheet, from theft to violent crime.

In 2009, authorities say, Gutierrez-Garcia, 33, was recruited to kill Ben Novack, a Fort Lauderdale millionaire whose flamboyant father, Ben Sr., built the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. Court records allege Gutierrez-Garcia was also commissioned to attack Novack’s 87-year-old mother, Bernice Novack, who was bludgeoned to death with a monkey wrench.

Ben Jr.’s wife, Narcy Veliz Novack, 54, fearing a divorce, allegedly engineered the murder-for-hire plot, so she could inherit the family’s fortune.

Authorities say Gutierrez-Garcia was part of “The Veliz Enterprise,” a family-run criminal syndicate consisting of Narcy, a former stripper; her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 57, and other characters accused of murder, robbery, money laundering and blackmail. Much like the mob, ruthlessness was their hallmark — even if it meant slicing out Ben Novack’s eyes or plotting to knock off one of their own when he snitched to police.

Through court records and transcripts, police reports and interviews, The Miami Herald has pieced together how the killings were planned and executed — and how the scheme ultimately unraveled.

Howard Tanner, Narcy Novack’s attorney, said his client had nothing to do with the slayings and that prosecutors are bereft of any evidence to the contrary.

Read the complete story at