|By Julie Knipe Brown, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 29, 2009--The wife of wealthy Fort Lauderdale businessman Ben Novack Jr. showed signs that she may have lied during a polygraph test a day after finding him slain in a New York hotel room, according to a search warrant filed in Broward Circuit Court.
Other new details that emerged from the court document: Novack had been bound with silver-gray duct tape on his face, his hands were duct-taped behind his back and his legs were taped together below his knees.
His wife, Narcy Novack, 53, also told Rye Brook police Detective John Arnold that he had quarreled with a comic book collector shortly before he was murdered, that he was doing business with "weird" people and carried large sums of cash, according to the warrant.
Investigators used two pieces of evidence to obtain the warrant to search the couple's home: the July 13 lie-detector test in which Narcy Novack displayed "indications of deception," according to the warrant; and a 2002 home invasion robbery that Ben Novack Jr. claimed was orchestrated by his wife.
Narcy Novack's lawyer, Howard Tanner, called the polygraph an "unreliable, unscientific" test that carries no weight in a court of law. The test is inadmissible in the state of New York.
"It certainly should not be used as a basis to obtain a search warrant," he said, adding that his client has fully cooperated with police and voluntarily submitted to police questioning without a lawyer present.
He has said that Narcy Novack had nothing to do with her husband's death.
On July 16, Terrence J. Mullen, special agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, executed a search warrant of the Novacks' home at 2501 Del Mar Place, Fort Lauderdale, as well as an unattached cottage on the property that had been occupied by Narcy Novack's daughter.
The search warrant notes that detectives were searching for business and financial records for Ben Novack Jr., Narcy Novack and their business; business records related to Ben Novack's collectibles, including comic books and batman memorabilia; diaries, notebooks, ledgers, calendars and safes.
BEATEN TO DEATH
Among the items seized were five rolls of duct tape, business records, computers and video from the couple's home, and indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras.
Ben Novack Jr., the son of Ben Novack Sr., founder of Miami Beach's Fontainebleau resort, was found beaten to death July 12 at the Hilton Rye Town in Rye Brook, N.Y. His wife found him at 7:40 a.m., face down on the floor, beside his hotel bed, covered in blood, according to police.
Narcy Novack told police he had been up all night and went to bed about 6:30 a.m. She explained that when she went to breakfast about 7 a.m. he was asleep, according to the warrant.
Ben Novack, 54, was at the hotel for a weekend convention he organized for Amway International, one of the biggest clients for his $50 million-a-year convention planning company, Convention Concepts Unlimited.
Both his wife and his wife's daughter attended the conference.
Detectives concluded that no one used a key to enter the hotel room from the time Narcy Novack left for breakfast to the time she returned.
The crime scene investigation showed that expensive jewelry, including a Rolex watch, was not stolen. But it was unclear whether Novack, who was known to carry large sums of cash, had been robbed because his wife said she couldn't determine how much money he had until she returned home.
Narcy Novack was questioned for hours by Rye Brook police on July 12 and July 13.
In interviews with police, she recalled a disagreement that her husband had had with a comic book collector about three weeks before his death. She said he agreed to buy a comic book for $43,000, but when the collector arrived at their home, they argued over the price. Subsequently, she turned a bag of cash over to her husband, who, in turn, gave it to the collector.
She did not know the name of the collector, but said her husband often did business at comic book trade shows.
Police initially said his widow was not a suspect, then a few days later, said that everyone in the hotel that day was considered "a person of interest."
Miami Herald staff writer Jennifer Lebovich contributed to this report.
To see more of The Miami Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.herald.com.
Copyright (c) 2009, The Miami Herald
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email email@example.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.