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April 08, 2015

Charity Says N.Y. Heir Squandered Millions Meant for Bequest

United Jewish Appeal is suing over the distribution of a late Manhattan property mogul's fortune, claiming an heir blew through $3.5 million intended for the charity, writes the New York Post. The case turns on the lifestyle of Irving Bender, the brother-in-law of Bill Gottlieb, who died in 1999 with a $1 billion real-estate portfolio.

UJA, as the charity is known, asserts that it was supposed to get the remainder of a trust set up by Mr. Gottlieb, the terms of which gave Mollie Bender — his sister and Mr. Bender's wife — money for emergencies and "to maintain her usual and normal standard of living." Mr. Bender became the beneficiary after his wife died in 2007 and, the lawsuit alleges, went on a spending spree that included luxury cars, luxury hotel and resort stays, and exorbitant medical expenses.

After Mr. Bender died in 2012, his son, Neil, inherited the Gottlieb property empire. UJA claims that U.S. Trust, a Bank of America subsidiary that administered the Gottlieb trust, signed off on Irving Bender's spending "to procure bigger business down the road" from Neil Bender. A Bank of America spokesman said the trustee "acted in accordance with Mr. Gottlieb's direction." UJA has received $6.75 million from the trust and is "hondling for more," a spokesman for Neil Bender said, using a Yiddish term for haggling.