Defendant in NY, Fla. killings seeks wedding

A man accused of helping his sister do away with her husband told a judge Friday that he wants to get married.

Cristobal Veliz, 57, was in federal court to be arraigned on the latest charges against him, which include murder in aid of racketeering. If convicted of that charge, Veliz would automatically be sentenced to life in prison.

Veliz pleaded not guilty. He also asked Judge Kenneth Karas to sign a court order allowing him to travel from the Westchester County jail to the nearby Mount Pleasant Town Hall to get a marriage license.

The judge, reading from Veliz's petition, identified the bride-to-be as Laura Law. Veliz's lawyer, Lawrence Sheehan, said later that the couple had lived together in Brooklyn before Veliz was arrested.

"You want to marry Laura Law?" the judge asked.

"Yes, please," Veliz said.

Veliz and his sister, Narcy Novack, are accused of helping to arrange the 2009 killings of her husband, Ben Novack Jr. and her mother-in-law, Bernice Novack.

Ben Novack was beaten to death in his suburban New York hotel room. Bernice Novack was killed in her Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home.

Ben Novack's father built the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

Narcy Novack pleaded not guilty to the new charges a month ago.

When prosecutor Elliott Jacobson asked to see a copy of the marriage application Friday, the judge asked, "Why do you have a say in this? He doesn't need your permission to get married."

But Jacobson said there may be federal procedures that differ from the county jail's procedures, and the judge agreed to check with federal marshals before approving Veliz's petition.

"Mr. Veliz, hang in there," he told the defendant.

Jacobson also wants to see a copy of a letter Veliz sent to the judge in August. The letter has not been made public, but Veliz brandished it during a court appearance last month and complained he was being blamed for something other people had done.

"They did this, not me," he said then. "I'm not guilty."

The prosecutor said he'd like to know if Veliz identifies the people he claims are responsible. If it's a false claim, he said, he could use it against Veliz at trial.

The judge told Jacobson to find out whether Sheehan is willing to let him see the letter.

Sheehan said Veliz's cell was searched about two weeks ago and Veliz believes it was an attempt to find the letter. Jacobson said he knew nothing about that.