Appellate Division, Second Department Justice Sandra Sgroi on Friday stayed conflicting surrogate court proceedings in Brooklyn and Staten Island over a woman’s $8 million estate until the appellate court decides where the woman was domiciled.
Sgroi allowed some taxes to be paid on the estate but left most of it in the hands of Brooklyn public administrator Bruce Stein, according to Richard LaRosa of Passarello & LaRosa, who represents Staten Island public administrator Gary Gotlin.
LaRosa said he believes a full resolution of the dispute could take a year or longer.
The decedent, Palma Bonora, was a lifelong Brooklynite until 2008, when her godson, acting as her guardian, moved her from a nursing home in Brooklyn to one in Staten Island. The godson also had Bonora’s Brooklyn house demolished and sold the property. Bonora died last summer.
Gotlin filed a petition for letters of administration in Staten Island in November, and Stein filed a petition in Brooklyn in December. Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres was the first to issue letters of administration. On March 20, Staten Island Surrogate Robert Gigante ruled that he had jurisdiction over the case (NYLJ, April 1). On March 28, Lopez Torres issued an order directly contradicting Gigante’s, ordering that the case stay in Brooklyn and that the estate’s assets be released to Stein (NYLJ, April 3).
Stein is represented by Richard Freeman, a partner at Cullen & Dykman, who could not be reached for comment.
The Brooklyn case is Matter of Bonora, File No. 2013-4663/A, while the Staten Island case is File No. 2013-1173.