Sex, limbs and duct tape: the marriage of Ben and Narcy Novack
BY JULIE K. BROWN The Miami Herald
Hoping to establish multiple motives for the murder of Ben Novack, allegedly by his wife, the feds plan to give jurors a lurid portrait of their marital life.
If a court brief filed by federal prosecutors is even partly true, Ben and Narcy Novack had a profoundly dysfunctional marriage — and a life of sex, limbs and duct tape would have made a South Beach madam blush.
Narcy, who faces trial next month in her hotel tycoon husband’s slaying, told the FBI and others that her husband was a pedophile who would give artificial limbs free to amputees in return for sex; that he arranged sham marriages as part of an immigration scam involving his exotic dancer mistress, and that he encouraged his wife to duct-tape him and abuse him during sex.
The court papers released this week contend that Narcy reported some of the behavior to police, the FBI and family members in the years before Ben’s murder.
Prosecutors intend to use her admissions and details of the marriage in general, to establish a “sick, vicious cycle” that drove her to kill her husband out of anger and greed.
The court papers also, for the first time, identify Ben Novack’s mistress, Rebecca Bliss, a tattoo-artist/exotic dancer whom he set up in a lavish apartment on Marina Bay Drive in Fort Lauderdale.
It is alleged that his doting on her infuriated Narcy.
According to the court papers and sources close to the case, Ben bought furniture for Bliss’ apartment, and when Narcy discovered the affair, she called Bliss’ landlord and told him to cancel Bliss’ lease because her husband was dead.
He was, in fact, very much alive at the time. Novack’s murder wasn’t until seven months later.
Narcy Novack, 55, remains in a Westchester County, N.Y., jail on charges of first-degree murder and racketeering in the executions of her husband and her mother-in-law, Bernice Novack, 86. Authorities allege that Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 58, of Philadelphia, orchestrated the murder-for-hire plots so that Narcy could inherit his estate, worth at least $10 million.
Three alleged accomplices, two of them hit men hired in Miami to do the killings, are cooperating in the case. They have provided details about Ben and Narcy Novack’s marriage that prosecutors say lend credibility to their narrative of the Novack murders.
Ben Novack, son of the man who built Miami Beach’s landmark Fontainebleau hotel, was found beaten to death on July 11, 2009, in his hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where he was at an Amway meeting he had booked as part of his $50-million-a-year convention planning business. His body, which was bound and gagged with his eyes slit, was found by his wife, a former stripper with whom he had a tumultuous 17-year marriage.
His mother, onetime queen of the Fontainebleau, was found dead in her Fort Lauderdale home three months before. Her death was initially ruled accidental by Fort Lauderdale police and the then-Broward County medical examiner. After Ben Novack was found dead, however, police were forced to reopen the case and eventually new evidence showed that she in fact had been beaten to death with a monkey wrench in her garage. What’s more, the court papers released this week reveal that the killers tried unsuccessfully to harm her in the weeks before the actual murder.
Novack and Veliz have pleaded innocent.
Prosecutors allege that Narcy and her brother told the hit men to kill Bernice Novack because she mistreated her daughter-in-law, that she encouraged her son to beat his wife, and that Bernice had once drugged her daughter-in-law.
Veliz also told one of the killers that Ben had a business involving artificial limbs that he used to lure amputees or their relatives into having sex with him in exchange for free limbs, engaging in “sick sexual habits.”
They also said that in 2008, a year before the murders, Narcy told the FBI that her husband was arranging sham marriages and that one of the sham brides in the scheme was Bliss, with whom he had been having an affair. That same year, Narcy also told a Mexican customs officials that her husband had illegally smuggled $10,000 into Mexico. When the FBI failed to take action against her husband, prosecutors said Narcy began to plot her husband’s murder in earnest, according to the court papers.
Prosecutors also intend to introduce evidence of a 2002 incident at Ben and Narcy’s Fort Lauderdale home in which Narcy handcuffed him to a chair and blindfolded him, leading him to believe they were about to engage in a bondage/sexual ritual that was a “mainstay of their marriage.” Instead, she slugged him in the face and removed property and thousands of dollars from the house.
Afterward, she told police that she was upset because her husband was having sex with amputees and that their marriage was so physically, sexually and emotionally abusive that she had left him as many as 50 times.
“That incident is no more sensational or disturbing than [these] crimes with which [Narcy] is charged,’’ prosecutors said in asking the court to allow the 2002 incident to be admitted at trial.
Prosecutors also allege that, in the months following the murders, Narcy Novack set out upon a shell game, moving valuable property, jewelry and other items that belonged to her husband and mother-in-law, illegally moving them in and out of various safe-deposit boxes in an effort to hide the assets.
Earlier this week, a lawyer showed up at a pretrial hearing for Novack in Westchester, N.Y., claiming he had several pieces of jewelry, worth up to $200,000, given to him by Narcy that she wanted him to use as payment for co-representing her. Her court-appointed attorney, Howard Tanner, was caught off guard by the move, as was the prosecutor, Elliott Jacobson, and the federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas.
Karas, visibly perturbed, reminded Novack that she had earlier pleaded that she had no money and that taxpayers were paying for Tanner to represent her. The estate’s assets have been frozen pending the outcome of the trial. Should Novack be convicted, she loses all rights to his fortune