By Chuck Weber
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Money is the source of more conflict in the case of a man who hired hit men to shoot his ex-wife. Friday prosecutors asked a judge to set a legal precedent to get Ron Samuels to pay restitution to Heather Grossman, who was left a quadriplegic and on a breathing tube, requiring around the clock care the rest of her life.
The attempted hit took place in Boca Raton in 1997. Three years ago a jury convicted Samuels. In addition to getting life in prison, Samuels was also ordered to pay restitution of nearly $340,000 to Grossman to pay medical bills. And that's the problem. Samuels hasn't paid.
Friday Grossman testified by video conference call from her home in Arizona. Sitting in her specially designed wheelchair, Grossman said she still requires constant care, but has yet to see a dime of the restitution money.
Prosecutors told the judge the money could come from a valuable life insurance policy on Heather, owned by Samuels. But Samuels tried to transfer the policy to a trust headed by one of Samuels' friends-- a move designed to keep money from Heather, prosecutors say.
The ownership of the insurance policy is the subject of a civil lawsuit. To speed restitution to Grossman, prosecutors said the criminal court judge should take over the civil suit, a move attorneys say is unprecedented. Palm Beach County's Chief Judge would have to approve such a switch of court jurisdiction.
"Ron Samuels continues to use the legal system to abuse my daughter," said Ralph Stephens, Grossman's father, who flew from Arizona to testify at the hearing. He said he and his wife pay Heather's medical bills to the tune of $90,000 a year. "He manages to abuse the system and abuse us," said Stephens.
"There was no circumvention of any court order," said Samuels' lawyer Bennett Cohn. "All of the transfers were made before the restitution ruling. Justice can only be done by leaving that case where it is now, in the civil court and let the civil judge determine it."