Narcisa Veliz Novack and Cristobal Veliz Sentenced in White Plains Federal Court to Life in Prison for the Beating Deaths of Ben and Bernice Novack
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 17, 2012|
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County District Attorney, announced that Narcisa Veliz Novack, a/k/a, Narcy Novack, and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, were sentenced today in White Plains federal court to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas in connection with their convictions on charges related to the beating deaths of Novack’s husband, Ben Novack, and his mother, Bernice Novack. Novack and Veliz were found guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and four counts of violent crime in aid of racketeering in a June 2012 jury trial. The racketeering counts relate to, among other things, the murder of Bernice Novack and the maiming and assault of Ben Novack. They were also found guilty of conspiracy to commit, and committing interstate domestic violence, as well as stalking. In addition, Novack was found guilty of interstate transportation of stolen property and two counts of money laundering, and Veliz was found guilty of two counts of tampering with a witness.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “Narcy Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, have blood on their hands and unspeakable acts of violence to their names, and they will spend the rest of their lives in prison answering for what they did in the name of money. Thanks to the great teamwork and persistence of law enforcement in this case, these brutal murders were solved and the defendants have been punished.”
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore stated, “Today, Narcy Novack and Cristobal Veliz are finally being held accountable for their gruesome and brutal conduct. It was pure greed that drove their evil scheme to steal millions of dollars from the Novack family by murdering Ben Novack, Jr. and his elderly mother Bernice Novack and plotting to kill a witness in order to prevent her testimony in the case against them. This dangerous brother/sister team will now be where they belong—behind bars for the rest of their natural lives. This case is the perfect example of the excellent results achieved when law enforcement works together. The close collaboration and cooperation between the District Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Rye Brook Police, Westchester County Police, and Westchester County Department of Labs and Research allowed law enforcement to bring these two people to justice.”
According to the 15-count supersedingindictment filed in White Plains federal court, evidence and testimony presented at trial, and other court proceedings:
Ben and Bernice Novack were members of the family that built the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Ben Novack, who was 52 at the time of his death, owned Novack Enterprises Inc., which did business as Convention Concepts Unlimited, a company that organized and oversaw conventions held by various businesses. Bernice Novack, who was 86 at the time of her death, was the secretary of Novack Enterprises Inc.
Beginning in February 2009, Novack and Veliz plotted to attack Bernice and Ben Novack and hiredhit men, including Alejandro Cesar Gutierrez Garcia and Joel Gonzalez, to accomplish those attacks. Both men are cooperating with the government and testified at trial.
On April 4, 2009, Garcia surprised Bernice Novack as she started to get out of her car in the garage of her home in Fort Lauderdale and hit her in the head and mouth with a monkey wrench. She died of her wounds shortly thereafter.
In July 2009, Cristobal Veliz arranged for Garcia and Gonzalez to travel from Florida to the Rye Town Hilton in Rye Brook, New York, where Ben Novack was staying with his wife while his company oversaw a convention at the hotel. Early on the morning of July 12, 2009, Novack let the two men into their room, who then attacked him in his bed and on the floor, striking him with dumbbells and using a box-cutter to cut his eyes. The hit men silenced his screams with a pillow given to them by Novack, tied him up, and used duct tape to cover his mouth. He died of asphyxiation and blunt force trauma.
Novack then stole approximately $100,000 in cash proceeds collected at the convention by her husband’s company and laundered most of those funds through bank accounts in Florida and New York. In the wake of the attacks, Veliz twice solicited the murder of one of the hitmen involved in the attack on Bernice Novack in an effort to silence him.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Karas ordered Novack 56, and Veliz, 59, to forfeit numerous assets that were the proceeds of their racketeering activity, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and other personal property belonging to Ben Novack valued at approximately $7 million. He also ordered Novack to pay a fine of $250,000. Additionally, Novack and Veliz were ordered to pay $105,515—the amount she stole from her husband after his murder—to Novack Enterprises Inc., her late husband’s company.
Both defendants were acquitted of count three of the indictment, which charged violent crime in aid of racketeering for the murder of Ben Novack.
Gutierrez Garcia pled guilty on June 28, 2010, to an information charging him with interstate domestic violence, with death resulting.
Joel Gonzalez pled guilty on January 20, 2011, to an indictment charging him with interstate domestic violence with death resulting, stalking with death resulting, and conspiracy to commit both of those crimes.
Denis Ramirez—Veliz’s son-in-law and a getaway driver in the Ben Novack homicide—pled guilty on February 17, 2011, to interstate domestic violence with death resulting, stalking with death resulting, and conspiracy to commit those crimes.
Francisco Picado—a cousin of Ramirez and also a getaway driver in the Ben Novack homicide—pled guilty on September 14, 2011, to being an accessory-after-the-fact.
Garcia, Gonzalez, Ramirez, and Picado all testified as government witnesses at the trial. Their sentencing dates have not yet been set.
Mr. Bharara thanked Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore and the prosecutors and investigators from her office for their cooperative work in this investigation and prosecution. He also praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Rye Brook Police Department, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Jacobson, Andrew Dember, Jeffrey Alberts, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Perrone of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, cross-designated for this case, are in charge of the prosecution.