Hotel Heir Widow Charged in Husband's Death

Florida widow charged in NY hotel heir killingCourtesy Fontainebleau
The widow of a millionaire travel executive found beaten in a suburban New York hotel has been charged with a central role in his killing.

The wife of a Florida hotel travel executive who was beaten to death in a New York hotel room last year, allegedly let her husband's killers into the room and then handed them a pillow that was placed over his face.

Narcy Novack was arrested in Florida today on federal charges of conspiring to intimidate, beat and kill her husband, 53-year-old Ben Novack Jr. at a Hilton in Rye Brook, N.Y. last year.

Ben Novack was the grandson of the founder of the famous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. The hotel has been a Miami landmark for more than 50 years. In its heyday, the 22-acre hotel was the place to be seen. It played host to entertainment legends Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Judy Garland, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, Marlene Dietrich, Debbie Reynolds and many others.

It was also featured in numerous movies including Goldfinger, Midnight Cowboy, Scarface and Police Academy 5. Tony Soprano even stayed there in one episode of the HBO series.

To bring the hotel -- listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- back to its glory days, the owners spent $1 billion in renovations, reopening the 1,504-room property in November 2008. It once again became one of Miami's hottest hotels.

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But the hotel's founding family apparently had its own issues.

Ben Novack grew up in the penthouse of the Fontainebleau. His father eventually lost the hotel to bankruptcy and the younger Novack went on to start his own business. The multimillion-dollar event-planning company had organized an Amway convention at the Rye Brook Hilton last July.

Narcy Novack allegedly used this convention as a chance to kill her husband.

She and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, drove twice from Florida up to New York, according to an indictment unsealed today in the federal court for New York's Southern District. They allegedly conspired with Denis Ramirez, Joel Gonzalez and a third individual not identified who appears to be cooperating with authorities.

Then on the morning of July 12, 2009, Ramirez allegedly drove Gonzalez and the other man to the Hilton Rye Town. There, Narcy Novack let Gonzalez and the other man into the suite.

Gonzalez then "beat, cut and bound Ben Novack in his suite," according to court papers obtained by ABC News. Novack also gave Joel Gonzalez and the other man "a pillow to place over the face of her husband … as he was being assaulted," the indictment said.

After the attack, Novack allegedly gave Gonzales a jeweled bracelet belonging to her husband.

Ben Novack was found dead in his hotel room, covered in blood. His face, hands and legs were bound with duct tape. His wife told police she found him that way.

Narcy Novack, 53, was arrested Thursday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She was denied bail and is expected to be extradited to New York. Veliz, 56, and Ramirez, 36, were arrested in Brooklyn, New York Thursday morning. Gonzalez, 25, of Miami, had not been found by authorities as of mid-Thursday afternoon.

The four defendants are charged with conspiring to commit interstate domestic violence and stalking. If convicted of all charges, they could be sentenced to life in prison.

The office of Novack's lawyer, Howard Tanner, said they did not have any comment at this point.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called "the plot that led to the brutal death of Ben Novack … a family affair." While Janet Difiore, district attorney of Westchester County in New York said it was "short of a calculated plot."

"The killing of Ben Novack was not a spur-of-the-moment crime of passion. It was the end game of considerable planning," added George Venizelos of the FBI's New York field office.

According to the Associated Press, the Novack's had an "eventful marriage" that included bondage, sex games and bouts of violence.

In 2002, Novack claimed his wife orchestrated a home invasion robbery that left him tied to a chair for 24 hours. He decided not to prosecute when she told police it was an episode in their unusual sex life, the AP reported.

Narcy Novack also claimed her husband once broke her nose, then took her to a plastic surgeon to repair it. When she woke, she said, she had breast implants she hadn't asked for, the police report said. No charges were filed.

Under her husband's will, Narcy Novack stands to inherit his entire fortune, which is at least $6 million. If she were to lose the estate, most of it would go instead to daughter May Abad and into trusts for her two teenage sons.