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Entries in Millionaire (11)

Friday
Nov302012

Missing Millionaire Could Be Hiding Out in Netherlands

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A number of unusual signs point to the possibility that missing millionaire Guma Aguiar could be hiding out in the Netherlands, according to his wife's attorney.

Aguiar, 35, was last seen on June 19 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Early the next morning, his 31-foot fishing boat, the T.T. Zion, washed up on a Fort Lauderdale beach with the engine running and lights on, but no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

Since then, Aguiar's mother, Ellen Aguiar, and wife Jamie Aguiar have been embroiled in a nasty legal fight for control of his assets, valued at over $100 million.

Speculation that Guma could still be alive has surrounded this mysterious case ever since his disappearance.  The troubled millionaire had a history of legal problems and psychiatric issues.

Attorneys have been eager to interview Guma's associates, friends and family members.  Ellen has been deposed and maintains she does not know anything about her son's disappearance, according to attorney William Scherer, but an attempt to interview Guma's sister Angelika Aguiar Drew took a baffling turn.

In response to a subpoena to appear in court for a deposition, Guma's sister sent the court an affidavit from the Netherlands.

"She sent the Florida court an affidavit signed in the Netherlands that she intends to move her residence or has moved her residence to the Netherlands," Scherer, who represents Jamie, told ABC News.

Guma's sister is married to Corey Drew, whom Scherer calls "one of [Guma's] insiders all along."

"Angelika and Corey have indicated that they want to move or have moved to the Netherlands.  They're trying to avoid us, taking this deposition and being subject to Florida court," Scherer said.  "So she filed this affidavit and then we are wondering, 'What's the Netherlands?'"

After looking into the Netherlands, Scherer claims he discovered that another one of Guma's "very close business associates" has also relocated to the Netherlands.  Scherer declined to give the associate's name, but the information has left him baffled.

"Why are they all going to the Netherlands?  What's going on there?  We haven't been able to get them under oath to ask them," he said.  "This all may be a coincidence, but it may not be."

Police have investigated Guma's disappearance as a missing person case.  While some have suggested that the financially and mentally troubled millionaire may have committed suicide, no body has been found.  There have also not been any reported sightings of him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Did Missing Florida Millionaire Guma Aguiar Jump to Another Boat?

Guma Aguiar and his wife Jamie. (ABC News)(NEW YORK) -- Deepening the mystery of missing Florida millionaire Guma Aguiar's disappearance, experts examining newly released GPS data from Aguiar's boat say it could suggest a scenario in which he jumped ship and boarded a waiting boat mid-sea.

"The pattern is very identifiable.  It just sort of fits as a scenario," boat expert Henry Pickersgill told ABC News.  "There appears to be a pattern in the vessel's track, speed, longitude and latitude to indicate that it may have stopped briefly for enough time for Mr. Aguiar to have transferred to another vessel."

Pickersgill is an independent marine surveyor based in Brooksville, Fla.  He has been in the boat and yacht industry for over 40 years.

Aguiar, 35, was last seen on June 19 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Early the next morning, his 31-foot fishing boat, the T.T. Zion, washed up on a Fort Lauderdale beach with the engine running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

Since then, Aguiar's mother, Ellen, and wife, Jamie, have been embroiled in a nasty legal fight for control of his assets, valued at over $100 million.

Police are investigating his disappearance as a missing person case.  While some have suggested that the financially and mentally troubled millionaire may have committed suicide, no body has been found.  There have also not been any reported sightings of Aguiar.

The 37-page GPS analysis report was released by the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday.  A series of maps show Aguiar's route from the night of his disappearance, including the speed at which he was traveling at all points.

[CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF AGUIAR'S GPS ROUTE THE NIGHT HE DISAPPEARED]

The GPS data starts at 7:29 p.m., once Aguiar had already departed from the inlet near his home.  The data shows that the boat traveled northeast until it was about four miles from shore, made an unusual triangle and then drifted slowly back to shore.

"You can easily say he keeps working northeast towards whatever he's looking for, sees it at the top of the triangle, goes to it, steps off the boat quickly, doesn't even turn the engine off and lets it go," expert Nathan Spaulding told ABC News.  "It takes half a second to jump off another boat."

Spaulding is an associate of Pickersgill's.  Spaulding, who is based in Marathon, Fla., is also an independent marine surveyor with over 40 years of experience.  The two men looked at the Coast Guard analysis separately and then each spoke to ABC News separately.

"The top speed of the vessel was approximately 31 miles per hour at 7:35 P.M.," the Fort Lauderdale police wrote in a news release.  "At 7:56 P.M., the vessel's GPS data shows an abrupt decrease of speed, slowing down to approximately 0.6 miles per hour, as well as a drastic change in course to head westbound."

From there, the boast drifted southwest with speeds no greater than 3 miles per hour before it washed up on the beach and was eventually towed back to an inlet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

Missing Florida Millionaire's Wife Asked for Divorce Before Disappearance

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Missing Florida millionaire Guma Aguiar's wife told him she wanted a divorce just hours before he vanished from his fishing boat, the lawyer for Aguiar's mother told ABC News on Monday.

It was the latest twist in a mystery that has sparked a vicious tug-of-war between his wife and mother over control of Aguiar's $100 million estate.

Aguiar's disappearance has triggered a barrage of rapid-fire legal filings by his mother and wife over the last few days, with the wife filing counter documents on Monday seeking control of her husband's estate.

It was the third legal filing since Aguiar, 35, vanished last Wednesday when his 31-foot fishing boat washed up on a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., beach with the engine running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

The U.S. Coast Guard and multiple police agencies launched a search for Aguiar, but the Coast Guard suspended their search last Thursday night.

Documents filed last week by his mother to secure control of her son's assets suggest that Aguiar may be alive and in a "delusional state or be suffering from psychosis."

But on Monday, a lawyer for Aguiar's mother, Ellen Aguiar, suggested that the millionaire was in a despondent mood when he got onto his boat last week.

"An hour before he got on his boat, the wife told Guma she wanted a divorce," attorney Richard Baron told ABC News.  "I'm of the belief that that's what pushed him over the deep end.  He loved his wife.  He did not want a divorce."

Court records show that Guma Aguiar filed for divorce from Jamie Aguiar in July 2011, but the couple did not go through with the divorce.

Baron said that Ellen Aguiar spoke to her son an hour before he got on his fishing boat, the T.T. Zion, and sailed off.

"She thinks he went off the deep end and got on the boat depressed [and then] jumped, fell or is somewhere clinging to life," Baron said.  "A mother's optimism knows no bounds.  She's not thinking the worst."

Guma Aguiar's assets include $65 million in bank assets, $35 million in Israeli real estate, the $5 million Florida home he shares with his family, and seven cars and a yacht valued at over $3 million.

Court documents filed on Monday by attorneys for Ellen Aguiar and obtained by ABC News say that Guma Aguiar's property is in "imminent danger" of being "wasted, misappropriated, or lost" by his wife Jamie Aguiar unless immediate action is taken to preserve the status quo.

The document alleges that his wife Jamie Aguiar fired Aguiar & Associates' CFO "without any reason or justification whatsoever and without a majority vote for the remaining officers to do so."

It also claims that his wife contacted the chairman of the board of Hapoel Jerusalem, a basketball team owned by Guma Aguiar, and instructed him to take no further action with the team, including paying the salaries of employees.

"The Absentee's Wife has taken such actions without court order, without power of attorney, and without any other authority to do so," the document states.

Jamie Aguiar's agent Suzanne Faulkner has been acting on her behalf and executing these actions, according to the document.  Faulkner did not respond to request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun222012

Florida Millionaire Missing After Empty Yacht Washes Ashore

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Florida millionaire and philanthropist Guma Aguiar is missing after his yacht washed ashore with the ignition running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., police responded to a report of a beached boat early Wednesday morning and police identified Aguiar, 35, as the owner of the 31-foot vessel.

After finding his boat, authorities went to Aguiar's home to speak to his wife Jamie Aguiar.  She said that when she arrived home the night before, she believed her husband was in the home office, according to police.

One of the couple's employees told Jamie Aguiar that her husband had actually gone out on his boat at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"No one has seen Guma since," Fort Lauderdale police wrote in a statement.  "Jamie told officers that she is concerned for her husband's safety."

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Marine Units are searching for Aguiar.  Police believe he is "endangered" and have said they are not ruling anything out at this point.

Though the boat's engine was running and lights were on, one important piece of the boat was broken -- the tie rod, experts at Sea Tow, the company that towed Aguiar's boat from the beach, told ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG.  The rod holds the boat's two motors parallel and without the rod, the boat could lose control, which may have knocked him overboard.

Guma Aguiar's mother would like to hope for the best, but she is realistic about the fate her son may have met.

"I would be delighted to hear that he was kidnapped and being taken great care of, and I believe in miracles and would hope for a miracle.  I think, realistically, what happened is pretty clear," Ellen Aguiar told ABC News.  "The likelihood is that he was tossed off the boat into the waves.  The boat was found, but the body has not been found."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan232012

Woman Convicted in Millionaire’s Love Triangle Murder

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Nanette Johnston was found guilty Monday on charges that she plotted to have her lover kill her far older, millionaire fiancé so she could collect on an insurance policy and other assets.

On Dec. 15, 1994, Bill McLaughlin, a 55-year-old inventor and pharmaceutical mogul, was shot six times by an intruder in his Newport Beach, Calif., home, inside a wealthy, gated community. He was living with Johnston, then an attractive 25-year-old he’d met after he answered her ad in a dating magazine.

No arrests were made at the time, but 15 years later prosecutors re-examined the evidence.

They charged Johnston, now 43, and her lover, Eric Naposki, a former NFL linebacker, with murder. The prosecutor alleged she put Naposki up to the crime so they could make millions off McLaughlin’s death.

Johnston, at the time, stood to benefit from a $1 million life insurance policy, $150,000 from McLaughlin’s will and access to his beach house.

The defense said Johnston had a solid alibi and that Naposki acted alone, out of jealousy; Naposki was convicted of first-degree murder last year.

He was scheduled to be sentenced last Friday but the judge agreed to a request by Naposki’s lawyers to delay the sentencing until May.  He could face life in prison without parole.

The jury took just five days to make their decision in Johnston’s case after hearing closing arguments last Thursday.

“[The prosecutor's] pinnacle evidence of this case, saying my client was involved, is horse manure,” said Johnston’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mick Hill.

The defense acknowledged Johnston’s affair with Naposki, but argued Johnston was an intelligent woman who would never leave her wealthy fiance.

“Hate her as much as you want for being a liar, a cheater and a thief, but you can’t hold her guilty based on that,” Hill argued.

But Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued otherwise. “You just listened to two hours of crap in an Irish accent,” he said after Hill, who was born and raised in Ireland, finished his closing arguments.

“Anyone who commits murder like this is clever, diabolical, evil,” Murphy said, at another point calling Johnston “a con artist and rip-off queen.”

The prosecution said Johnston planned the murder, giving Naposki the key he used to enter McLaughlin’s home.

And, they said, Johnston pleaded guilty to stealing half a million dollars from McLaughlin before and after the murder.

“Bill McLaughlin is worth a thousand times more to her dead than he is alive,” said Murphy. “She would become the trustee and has the money. She becomes the golden goose.”

Johnston and Naposki will be sentenced on May 18.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec192011

FL Developer Who Murdered Wife Says He Overdosed on Pain Pills

Kevin Horan/Stone(ORLANDO, Fla) -- Bob Ward, the former millionaire developer who was convicted of murdering his wife, was under observation Sunday after he told jail officials he took an overdose of pain pills on Saturday -- just one day after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Ward told officers at the Orange County Jail in Florida that he had taken more than the recommended amount of ibuprofen.  He was under medical observation at an Orlando hospital Sunday morning, officials said.

Inmates at the jail are allowed to purchase over-the-counter pain medication, and a bottle of ibuprofen contains 20 tablets, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Orange County Corrections Department officials told ABC News affiliate WFTV in Orlando that the incident is not being considered a suicide attempt.

In September, a jury found Ward guilty of the Sept. 21, 2009, murder of his wife, Diane Ward, in the couple’s mansion in the exclusive Isleworth community.

On Friday, despite his two daughters’ tearful pleas for leniency, a Florida judge sentenced Ward to 30 years in prison.

Ward admitted shooting his wife, but during the trial his defense called the incident a tragic accident.  The defense said Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that she could have been suicidal.  His attorney said Ward was just trying to save his wife when she was killed.

Ward had also said he was trying to get the gun out of his wife’s hands when it went off.

But prosecutors argued that Ward murdered his wife in a fit of rage inside the couple’s home. She was killed just days before a scheduled deposition on a series of issues related to her husband’s bankrupt company.

The couple was reportedly deep in debt, and Ward apparently could not pay his $17,000 monthly mortgage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec172011

Millionaire Murder Trial: Bob Ward Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

Giorgio Fochesato/Vetta/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Though his tearful adult daughters pleaded for leniency, a Florida judge Friday sentenced former millionaire developer Bob Ward, 63, to 30 years in prison for murdering his wife, Diane Ward, in 2009.

“Justice for my mom isn’t locking my dad behind bars for the rest of his life,” daughter Mallory Ward told the judge. “It’s giving our family a second chance.”

“It breaks my heart to see him behind bars,” daughter Sarah Ward said.

Judge Jenifer Davis nixed a request from the women “who spewed profanities during the sentencing” for a commutation of their father’s sentence.

After two weeks of testimony and 12 hours of deliberation, Ward was found guilty of second-degree murder for shooting his wife point-blank in the face.

His lawyer had argued that Diane Ward committed suicide.

She was within days of a scheduled deposition during which she would allege that her husband spent millions on homes and cars while his development company was going bankrupt.

On a 911 emergency call recording in 2009, Ward had said, “I just shot my wife. She’s dead. She’s done. I’m sorry.”

Hours after his arrest, he said, “I have nothing to be worried about, other than I was trying to get the gun out of her hand.”

Those and other contradictions, analysts said, likely weakened Ward’s bid to be exonerated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct212011

Convicted Fla. Millionaire: Jury Didn't Understand What Happened

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- James Robert "Bob" Ward, the millionaire Florida developer convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife, said in a jailhouse interview that he didn't think the jury realized what really happened the night Diane Ward died.

Clad in a dark blue jail jumpsuit, Ward seemed to blame his defense for failing to convey an accurate picture of how the incident played out on the night of Sept. 21, 2009.

"She was on my side of the bed, right behind me, holding a gun," Ward told News 13's Jacqueline Fell on Wednesday from inside the Orange County Jail, where he is awaiting sentencing. "And that's what the evidence showed, that she was right behind me holding a gun.  I turned around and it was a split second -- I'm talking about a blink of an eye -- that I had to grab a gun and stop I don't know what from happening."

"For some reason, the jury didn't understand that and our side didn't get that across," he said.  "And I mentioned several times during the trial to my attorney ... I said, 'I don't think they understand where Diane was when this happened.'  So what was she doing right behind me on my side of the bed?"

Asked if he thought his wife was trying to kill him, Ward replied, "I don't know what she was thinking.  All I know is she had a gun and I had to get it out of her hand."

He later added, "All I know is it went off.  I don't know how it went off."

Ward could face up to life in prison when his sentence is handed down on Nov. 8.  He was convicted last month of shooting his 55-year-old wife to death.

He admitted shooting his wife, but during the trial his defense called the incident a tragic accident.  The defense said Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that she could have been suicidal.  His attorney said Ward was just trying to save his wife when she was killed.

But prosecutors argued that Ward, 63, murdered his wife in a fit of rage inside the couple's Isleworth, Fla., mansion.  She was killed just days from a scheduled deposition on a series of issues related to her husband's bankrupt company.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Jury to Deliberate in Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- After multiple outbursts in court this week, millionaire developer James Robert "Bob" Ward chose to stay silent when asked if he wanted to take the stand in the trial where he is accused of shooting and killing his wife.

Diane Ward, 55, was found dead in the Isleworth, Fla., home she shared with the wealthy land developer in September 2009.  Ward, 63, is accused of shooting her at point blank range.

The defense team has argued that a combination of high amounts of alcohol along with depression medication caused Diane Ward to become suicidal, leading her husband to grab the gun from her hand.

In closing arguments Thursday, Ward's attorney Kirk Kirkconnell presented the defense's claim -- that his client was trying to prevent his wife from killing herself when the gun went off.

"We don't know if it was a suicide or not, and we don't know what her intentions were when she took that gun," Kirkconnell told the court.

Prosecutors disagree, and argue that Ward, in a fit of rage, intentionally shot his wife in the face.

"This is about a dead woman and the laws of the state of Florida," the prosecution said.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Friday.

If convicted, Ward could face more than 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Florida Millionaire on Trial for Wife's Murder

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Millionaire developer James Robert "Bob" Ward shot his wife dead in a fit of rage in the bedroom of the Florida couple's mansion, prosecutors told a jury Thursday during opening statements in Ward's murder trial, while his defense characterized the death as a "tragic accident."

"This case is about the fact that it was Bob Ward that shot her almost dead between the eyes," Assistant State Attorney Robin Wilkinson said in an Orange County, Fla., courthouse Thursday.

The prosecution played a recording of the 911 call Ward made to police moments after his wife, Diane, was shot to death in their Isleworth home on Sept. 21, 2009.  The 55-year-old woman was killed just days before her scheduled deposition in an investigation into whether her husband took money from his companies to support his lavish lifestyle.

"I just shot my wife … I just shot my wife.  I just shot my wife.  She's dead.  She's done.  I'm sorry," he says in the tape.

His daughter, Sarah Ward, cried when she heard the tape.  Her father consoled her.

Prosecutors say Ward, 63, admitted to shooting his wife, then changed his story to say she killed herself as he was trying to take the gun away from her.

But defense attorney Kirk Kirkconnell outlined a different scenario for jurors, telling them Diane Ward had a strong mix of alcohol and antidepressants in her system, and that her husband was just trying to save her when she was killed.

"He hears a sound behind him.  He turns to the sound and right there is his wife with the gun in her hand.  With a loaded gun in her hand.  She is right there.  She is right on top of him.  Not a word is spoken.  What do you do in that situation?  Instinctively Bob grabs the gun tries to wrestle it away," Kirkconnell said.

Gunshot tests prove the victim was shot from 18 inches away, making it difficult for her to have killed herself, the prosecution said.

Ward is charged with second-degree murder.  His trial is taking place in the same court where Casey Anthony was acquitted, marking the second notorious trial in Orlando, Fla., in a matter of months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio