Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Fractured Family
Tonight, a family feud has hit the courts. A senior citizen says her family stole from her. But her son says it's simply not true. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- For a parent, there's nothing more painful than losing a child.
But suing one must come in a close second.
Thelma Greenstein, Filed Lawsuit Against Son: "It's my child. My heart breaks, but while it's breaking, I'm filled with disgust."
76-year-old Thelma Greenstein says she's tried for years to get back family treasures from her son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
Her latest move: a lawsuit, claiming they tricked her out of property worth millions.
Carmel Cafiero: "It must be very hurtful to have to sue family."
Thelma Greenstein, Filed Lawsuit Against Son: "Extremely, extremely."
In dispute: the family jewels.
Thelma says there were diamonds, rubies, and designer watches in a safety deposit box.
Thelma Greenstein, Filed Lawsuit Against Son: "I knew that what I had in that bank box was worth a fortune."
Not so, counters her son.
Alan Greenstein, Son, 2008: "I've seen a few pieces of gold, I've seen two or three stones, I've seen two or three watches, and some junk, whatever."
Alan Greenstein told police anything his mom gave him was done so voluntarily.
Detective: "Basically you don't want to give the money back or give the jewelry back or any of the property back?"
Alan Greenstein: "Correct. It was a gift, it was a gift from her, and a gift's a gift."
But Thelma's lawsuit charges her son and his wife gave her "high doses of oxycodone" when she stayed with them after surgery.
She says she may have signed over access to her things then.
Thelma Greenstein, Filed Lawsuit Against Son: "The period I spent there, with Alan and Blanca, I remember nothing at all."
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "Thelma initially wanted her son arrested. But after an investigation that took years, the case was closed with no charges filed."
As part of the police investigation, authorities took the sworn statement of former Broward Medical Examiner Joshua Perper, Blanca Greenstein's father.
He was part of a family cruise with Thelma during the time in question and said Thelma's state of mind seemed "very clear."
But according to the lawsuit that same month, medical records indicate Thelma was admitted to the hospital in an "altered mental state."
David Lazarovic, Attorney: "I think it's pretty clear that she was incapacitated, she was staying with her son, and at the same time, it's not a normal thing for all of a sudden she's 'gifting' everything she has, pretty much, to him. So there was definitely something that was inappropriate that was going on."
Alan and Blanca Greenstein turned down our request for an interview, but their attorney pointed out there were never any criminal charges filed and that: "we strongly believe that the evidence will conclusively demonstrate that Thelma Greenstein's claims have no merit."
Court is the next step for this fractured family.
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