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2 guilty of arranging murders of man, mother

A Florida woman and her brother were found guilty Wednesday of orchestrating the killings of the woman's millionaire husband and his mother in a grab for the family estate.

A federal jury said Narcy Novack of Fort Lauderdale caused the savage 2009 beatings of Ben Novack Jr. in a suburban New York hotel room and Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home.

Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz of New York City, both were convicted of charges including racketeering, domestic violence, stalking, money laundering and witness tampering.

Both were acquitted of the charge of murder in aid of racketeering, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence.

Jurors said they had been instructed that to convict on that count, the killing had to be part of a robbery, which they said wasn't proven.

The defendants still could get up to life in prison when sentenced Nov. 1.

Novack chose not to attend the reading of the verdict.

"We all wondered, 'Where's Narcy?' said juror Danielle Daly of Yonkers.

Veliz was present and showed no emotion.

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said Novack and Veliz "will now have to answer for the blood of Ben Novack and his elderly mother." Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore called the defendants "modern-day 'public enemies.' "

Novack's lawyer, Howard Tanner, said afterward, "We put on our defense, and the jury has spoken. They were a conscientious jury."

Prosecutors said Novack and Veliz were motivated by "jealousy, retribution and greed" when they hired the thugs who carried out the killings. They said Novack feared that her husband, who was having an affair, would divorce her, and that a prenuptial agreement would bar her from the multimillion-dollar family estate.

Ben Novack Jr. had a successful travel company. His father built the storied Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, a celebrity hangout in the 1950s and 1960s that appeared in the movies "Scarface" and "Goldfinger."

The defense had tried to blame the killings on Narcy Novack's daughter, whose sons will now inherit the estate.

Prosecutors said Novack, 55, paid Veliz, 58, to hire hit men to assault the victims. The killers testified that Veliz recruited them and relayed instructions from Novack on how to carry out the killings.

They testified that those instructions included blinding Ben Novack Jr. -- his eyes were slashed with a utility knife -- and bashing Bernice Novack, 86, in the teeth with a wrench.

The killers also testified that Narcy Novack identified her husband to them in advance by stroking his hair in a restaurant as they watched.