WHITE PLAINS Cristobal Veliz testified in federal court today that he and his credit cards were in New York on April 4, 2009, the day that his sister’s mother-in-law, Bernice Novack, was bludgeoned to death inside her Fort Lauderdale home.
So, he had no explantion why one of those cards was used in a K-Mart in Miami that day, other than to insist that he wasn’t the one who made the purchase.
The denial contradicts the earlier testimony of Alejandro Garcia, Bernice Novack’s confessed killer, who joined other associates in the deadly plot in maintaining that Veliz recruited them for the job and accompanied them to Fort Lauderdale to scout out Bernice Novack’s house and look for her.
Veliz, 58, is now charged with his 55-year-old sister, Narcy Novack, with masterminding not only Bernice Novack’s killing, but the brutal beating death of Ben Novack Jr., Narcy Novack’s husband, at the Hilton Rye Town three months later.
On the witness stand in U.S. District Court in White Plains, Veliz said he did not go to Florida until after learning of Bernice Novack’s death. On Monday, he had testified that he had no idea where she lived until he accompanied Ben Novack to the house that week to help him open the windows and air out the house clear it of the smell from what had happened.
He reiterated today that he had an “excellent” relationship with Ben Novack and was trying to help him deal with his mother’s sudden death.
“I wanted him to get that out of his mind,” Veliz testified. “We actually went out on a boat. I wanted him to think of something else.”
But Garcia and another hired killer, Joel Gonzalez, testified that Veliz also recruited them for the fatal attack on Ben Novack just months later, on July 12, 2009. They said Narcy Novack let them into the couple’s suite at the Rye Brook hotel, where she remained for most of the brutal attack. They said they pummeled the Florida millionaire with dumbbells before Garcia cut his eyes and gagged him.
Prosecutors contend that Veliz and Narcy Novack masterminded the plot to cash in on Ben Novack’s fortune, estimated to be worth as much as $10 million. Narcy Novack feared her husband would divorce her and end her lavish lifestyle. Ben Novack’s mistress, former call girl and porn star Rebecca Bliss, testified that she tried to buy her out for $10,000 to end the affair with her husband.
Defense attorneys have disputed the government’s account, and have suggested that Narcy Novack’s daughter, May Abad, had a stronger motive to carry out the two killings: Her children stand to inherit the Novack fortune if her mother is convicted.
On Monday, Veliz implicated Abad in the pot and testified that Abad had him abducted and held in a Florida basement for 18 days months after Ben Novack’s killing.
Ben Novack earned millions through his company, Convention Concepts Unlimited, primarily hosting Amway Global conventions nationwide. He founded the company in 1978, shortly after his father lost ownership of the glitzy Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach to bankruptcy. The elder Novack opened the hotel in the late 1950s, and ran it during it’s heyday as a favorite stomping ground for the rich and famous.
Read more tomorrow in The Journal News and lohud.com