In re Rosenblatt, 2017-2245/B

CourtNew York Surrogate Court
Writing for the CourtPeter J. Kelly, J.
Citation2022 NY Slip Op 22187
PartiesIn the Matter of the Applications of Lois M. Rosenblatt, Public Administrator of Queens County, as Temporary Administrator of the Estate of Ammie Oglesby, Deceased, To Vacate Deeds and Turnover Real Property.
Docket Number2017-2245/B,C
Decision Date14 June 2022

2022 NY Slip Op 22187

In the Matter of the Applications of Lois M. Rosenblatt, Public Administrator of Queens County, as Temporary Administrator of the Estate of Ammie Oglesby, Deceased, To Vacate Deeds and Turnover Real Property.

No. 2017-2245/B, C

Surrogate's Court, Queens County

June 14, 2022


Gerard J. Sweeney, Esq.

Counsel to the Public Administrator, Queens County

Samantha Sbrocchi, Esq.

Attorney for Robert Boyd

Joseph A. Ledwidge, Esq.

Attorney for Orian Collins

Rafi Hasbani, Esq.

Attorney for Amida Special Opportunty Investments, LLC.

Michael L. Mangini, Esq.

Attorney for SHC Equities, LLC.

Peter J. Kelly, J.

Petitioner seeks inter alia, the return to the estate of two parcels of real property contending that the instruments purporting to transfer title to the subject premises are void ab initio.

The subject premises were owned by the decedent, Ammie Oglesby, who died on February 15, 2017. Subsequent to her passing, Robert Boyd (Boyd) sought probate of an instrument dated February 27, 2015 purporting to be decedent's last will and testament. The instrument provided for the entirety of the decedent's residuary estate to be distributed to Boyd. As the probate of the instrument was unchallenged, letters testamentary were issued to Boyd on February 2, 2018.

A proceeding was thereafter commenced to vacate the above probate decree on the basis that Boyd had omitted distributees on his petition, and therefore personal jurisdiction had not been obtained over all of the necessary parties in the underlying proceeding (SCPA § 203). By decision dated May 20, 2020 the Court vacated its prior decree of probate, revoked the letters testamentary issued to Boyd, directed an accounting, and appointed the Public Administrator as temporary administrator of the decedent's estate (SCPA § 209).

In the instant turnover proceedings, petitioner alleges that Boyd entered into two fraudulent transfers of decedent's real property. First, on September 27, 2017, prior to his appointment as fiduciary, Boyd "as sole heir of the Estate of Ammie Oglesby," transferred decedent's Cambria Heights property to respondent SHC Equities LLC (SHC), an entity whose sole member is respondent, Anthony Goscott (Goscott). On June 22, 2018, under the auspices of the fraudulent probate decree, Boyd, "as Executor," transferred decedent's interest in a St. Albans property to respondent MRAG Development, LLC (MRAG), another entity in which Goscott is the sole member. MRAG obtained a $300, 000.00 mortgage on the property from respondent, Amida Special Opportunity Investments LLC (Amida).

Petitioner, as temporary administrator, now seeks to nullify and void the aforesaid deeds and mortgage and return the real property to decedent's estate. Respondents SHC, MRAG, Amida, and Goscott move to dismiss the petitions pursuant to CPLR 3211[a ][1], [2], [4], or [5]. In the alternative, respondents seek relief pursuant to CPLR 3212, or a transfer of the proceedings to the Supreme Court for consolidation with another action.

Movants initially seek dismissal on subject matter jurisdiction grounds, arguing same is lacking as the Surrogate's Court's limited jurisdiction relates only to "matters affecting estates of decedents and not to independent matters involving controversies between living persons." Movants further opine that it would be a "miscarriage of justice" for this court to entertain such complex and discovery-laden proceedings when they "involve litigation between living individuals or ongoing entities."

A panoply of decisional law is cited by the movants in support of this argument. However, nearly all of the decisions relied upon curiously predate 1962. Significantly, it was on September 1, 1962 that the New York State Constitution was amended to provide that this court's power extends "over all actions and proceedings relating to the affairs of decedents, probate of wills, administration of estates and actions and proceedings arising thereunder or pertaining thereto..." (NY Const, art VI, § 12 [d]).

This constitutional mandate-codified in the Surrogates' Court Procedure Act (SCPA 201, 202)-obviates the need for the Surrogate's Court to couch its authority to entertain a particular matter based upon a specific statute. In any event, this court's dominion over these proceedings is clearly spelled out in SCPA 2103 which provides, in pertinent part, that [a] fiduciary may present to the court which has jurisdiction over the estate a petition... that any property as defined in 103 or...

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