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Spat escalates between attorney, administrator

Amherst attorney Teresa Snyder upped the ante last week in her battle to show alleged misconduct by Niagara County Treasurer David S. Broderick in his handling of estates.

Snyder sent a letter to Niagara County Surrogate's Court asserting that she can prove that over the years, Broderick has assigned his wife, Realty USA agent Jane Broderick, to sell many houses he controls in his statutory role as public administrator of estates.

Snyder said in the letter, dated Tuesday, that she will file "voluminous" evidence with the court -- unless County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III rules her way in a dispute over Broderick's handling of the estate of Snyder's mother.

Broderick's attorney, George V.C. Muscato, derided Snyder's assertion Friday.

"She has not been accurate with respect to anything she's said so far in regard to David," Muscato said.

Broderick collects a percentage of each estate he handles, if there is any value, with the size of the fee set by state law and pegged to the total worth of the estate. He always has refused to disclose his income from estates, calling it a private matter.

In a Jan. 30 court hearing, Snyder asked Murphy to remove Broderick as administrator of the estate of the late Marion B. Snyder. She wanted him replaced with the five Snyder children, including herself, as joint administrators.

Normally, Broderick's legal role as public administrator of estates pertains only to people who die without wills. But last spring, Murphy appointed Broderick to handle the Snyder estate because the five siblings couldn't agree on how to divide up the $361,000 estate.

According to the court file, Teresa Snyder sought Broderick's removal because he allowed his wife to list Marion Snyder's Lewiston home for sale, and Jane Broderick then tried to sell it to her sister.

That deal was blocked by two of Snyder's siblings, the files show, and the house was ordered sold Dec. 23 to a Lewiston couple who paid $169,500 -- which happens to be the same price Jane Broderick's sister offered last summer.

Jane Broderick has denied earning a commission on the purchase by Kyle and Angela Rookey, saying the deal was handled by another agent.

Muscato said, "Everybody involved, including [Teresa Snyder], was aware that [David Broderick] was having Jane list the house. She had every opportunity to object. She didn't."

"I don't believe it's proper to comment on an ongoing action," Snyder said Friday.

In the wake of the Jan. 30 hearing, Muscato filed a response denying all of Snyder's allegations and calling on Murphy to sanction Snyder by making her pay all the court costs and Broderick's legal fees.

That's when Snyder fired back.

She attached a two-page computer printout that she said showed 56 houses listed by Jane Broderick, "some of which were estates given to her by her husband."

However, the papers showed undated listings of sales made by the Realty USA Lewiston office, without showing which of its agents handled them, and it doesn't say which ones purportedly originated with the county treasurer.

Jane Broderick did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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