1. #1
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    Oct 2005

    Default Till Death Do Us Part...but I'm still divorcing you.

    For fellow legal beagles...

    I just found this interesting in that a Judge in CT had to rule that "Just because a party is deceased doesn't mean the marriage is over."

    I would've thought it would've made the divorce moot and kicked everything over to probate, but I guess it makes sense when you really think about FUBAR situations like this.

    By the way, when will this at least be a Lifetime movie?

    Death Doesn't Halt Divorce
    Despite Kissel Slaying, Widow Proceeds
    May 27, 2006
    By DAVE ALTIMARI, Courant Staff Writer STAMFORD -- Greenwich financier Andrew Kissel is dead, but his divorce certainly isn't.

    And if lawyers for his widow Hayley Kissel have their way, the legal proceedings won't be ending anytime soon.


    At stake are a $1.5 million vacation home in Vermont and maybe as much as $700,000 in cash from the sale of a home in Greenwich by a limited liability corporation that the Kissels had an interest in.

    Kissel was the victim of a homicide in April. His brutal slaying has spawned a bizarre suicide-by-homicide theory. Now the latest twist involves his pending, post-mortem divorce.

    "The mere fact that there is a death of a party does not necessarily mean the marriage has been dissolved," Superior Court Judge Kevin Tierney said, as attorneys for Andrew and Hayley Kissel met Friday to discuss the status of the case.

    Before the participants began to discuss whether a divorce can legally proceed if one party is deceased, the discussions got bogged down trying to determine who legally represents Andrew Kissel - if anyone.

    "I don't think Mr. Kissel is in any position to worrying about what occurs in these proceedings," said Howard Graber, who represented Andrew Kissel for about a month before his body was found in the basement of his Greenwich home at 10 Dairy Road on April 3.

    Andrew Kissel, 46, had been bound with flex cuffs and stabbed four or five times in the back. No one has been arrested and police have been pursuing the theory that he hired someone to kill him to make sure his two children were eligible for a $15 million insurance policy.

    The week he was killed, Kissel had been scheduled to plead guilty in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., to a real estate scam in which he forged documents to obtain more than $20 million in loans from banks and mortgage companies. He was facing up to 10 years in prison.

    "I've never been in this position before. It's very rare and unusual that a divorce in Connecticut isn't terminated when one of the parties dies," Graber said.

    But Tierney said that if there are outstanding claims, the case can continue.

    Attorney Erich Gaston, who is representing Hayley Kissel, said there are potential claims of fraud that need to be addressed before the marriage can be dissolved.

    One of the fraud claims is expected to focus upon the couple's home in Stratton Mountain, Vt.

    Hayley Kissel is claiming that her late husband fraudulently transferred the house from her name into his and then used it as collateral for more than $2 million worth of loans.

    Gaston has deposed a New York attorney whose notary public stamp Andrew Kissel used on all of the Vermont documents. Gaston is trying to determine whether the notary, a New York attorney named Sheila Friedland, knowingly assisted him or if he stole her stamp, as he has done in other cases.

    Hayley Kissel is going to claim that all of the documents are fraudulent and therefore the house belongs to her and the loans are invalid.

    The Kissels bought the house for about $425,000 in the early 1990s and spent more than $1 million renovating it.

    The second claim of fraud involves the sale of a home in Greenwich by a corporation called 269 Round Hill Road LLC of which Andrew Kissel and Hayley Kissel, through one of their daughters, were both investors.

    The house was sold in July 2005 for $6.2 million.

    Court documents show that once mortgages and other liens were paid, there was $666,112 left over that Andrew Kissel's criminal attorney, Phillip Russell, deposited in an account. That money is being fought over by the investors in the LLC, as well as the mortgage companies trying to collect on Andrew Kissel's numerous debts.

    Hayley Kissel's stake in the LLC is only $25,000, but it is another pot of money from that sale that her attorney is seeking access to.

    Court records show that when the house was originally sold, Andrew Kissel pocketed $626,000 for himself rather than include it as part of the profits for the entire corporation. Outside of the court hearing, Gaston said that money is unaccounted for and could potentially be a marital asset that Hayley Kissel is entitled to receive.

    Hayley Kissel is not alone in being interested in the $626,000.

    A title company trying to recover some of its losses from fraudulent loans it gave to Kissel has gone as far as deposing Russell, Kissel's criminal lawyer, a few weeks after Kissel's death, to determine what Russell knew of the missing money.

    In the deposition, Russell acknowledged that Andrew Kissel stole the money.

    He produced wire transfers showing the money went from the home buyer's bank account into Andrew Kissel's bank account in 2005. What happened to the money from there Russell didn't say.

    "Andrew told me he had taken more than his fair share and the rest should go to the shareholders," Russell said in his deposition.

    The rest was the $666,112 that Russell placed in a trust account which has yet to be divvied up.

    Tierney suggested that Gaston file a motion to transfer the divorce case to the complex litigation docket because there are so many murky legal issues that need to be addressed. Gaston said he would take it under advisement.

    Tierney has scheduled another status conference for Aug. 8.

  2. #2
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    nmfire's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Maryland (DC Suburb)


    It is things like this that sometimes make me want to move to Carrabou, Maine just so I can claim I never lived here.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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