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9-11 widow cites attorney- presidential conflicts, threat in estate court petition to judge
by Tom Flocco
[Ed: Ellen Mariani told us today that she is speaking out in honor of her dead husband Neil and all others who perished with him on September 11: "All Americans and others around the world who were affected by the 9-11 attacks and who supported my RICO action deserve to hear the truth about what has been happening to me through the American legal system to block my quest for the truth. I also pray that my speaking out will not affect my New York wrongful death suit or the New Hampshire probate challenge brought by my step-daughter. Again, I ask for your understanding, prayers and support as I continue to grieve my poor husband's death."]
Derry, New HampshireSeptember 28, 2004TomFlocco.comAccording to a petition filed last Thursday by 9-11 widow Ellen M. Mariani in the Rockingham County Courthouse, her administratrix resignation signature obtained under allegedly questionable circumstances by an attorney who was helping her answer an estate challenge by step-daughter Lauren Peters--is "null and void" due to improper notarization.
New Hampshire 9-11 widow Ellen Mariani with her late husband Neil. The determined mother of four said she is a fighter who will never give up until she finds out the truth concerning the circumstances of her murdered husband's death. (used with permission--from the private photo collection of Ellen Mariani)
The estate takeover attempt involving multiple Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire attorneys is also linked to a law firm representing President Bush and his brother Jeb--but also Mariani's in-state attorney who happens to be the godmother to a child of her former law partner and Bush-appointed U.S. attorney Thomas Colantuono, a former Republican New Hampshire state senator.
According to the document, the New Hampshire widow petitioned the court last Thursday, saying that Peters' attorney Jon Levenstein "demanded in a letter I have in my possession that I comply [cancel her original December 20, 2001 wrongful death suit against United Airlines and go into the 9-11 Victim Compensation Fund] 'in case something unforseen happened to me,' which I interpreted as a possible threat."
Mariani said "I asked Mr. (Robert) Morgan for a copy of my resignation...but he refused, saying 'I have to have it notarized first' " But the New Hampshire widow also told us last night that she had to wait six days before receiving a copy of the resignation document signed at 11:00 pm last Tuesday evening, September 21.
A justice of the peace and register of probate working in presiding Judge Christina M. O'Neill's Rockingham County courthouse, Andrew Christie, Jr. (a commissioned notary public himself), told TomFlocco.com, "That's highly irregular. I would never have done that," when we asked him whether it was legal for a licensed notary public to obtain a signature but fail to swear-in and identify the individual.
We had also asked Justice Christie about the failure to sign, stamp and affix the notary seal on the court document in the individual's presence and leave a copy of the signed and notarized document with the signer: "I wouldn't have done it that way," Christie said.
"When I filed my court petition to Judge O'Neill, I had to hold up my right hand and swear that I was the person filing the document before Justice Christie would stamp, sign and affix a seal to the petition," said Mariani.
"I even had to show Justice Christie my drivers license. But those proper legal procedures never happened when Mr. Morgan insisted on my resignation signature at 11:00 at night after wearing me down for five hours with military combat stories at a local restaurant just as they closed."
The outspoken widow of 9-11 victim Louis Neil Mariani previously filed a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) suit against President Bush and other high government officials, seeking evidence, information and accountability for failures and lack of decisive action before and during the attacks on September 11.
"My signature was on a separate page with Robert Morgan signing as notary; but there was no commission expiration date and no evidence of a standard New Hampshire notary license, and he never administered an oath or asked to see my drivers license," said Mariani.
"The space for a date indicating when I signed the document was left blank and Mr. Morgan crossed out the words notary/justice of the peace and substituted 'commissioner of deeds' in place of notary public," according to Mariani, adding "there was no visible indication when his commission expired."
Mariani decided to tell Judge O'Neill about the strange circumstances involved in obtaining her signature to resign from administering and controlling her late husband Neil's estate by filing a court Motion/Petition last Thursday--after which she personally served copies via mail to each attorney involved, as required by law.
"I have no way of knowing whether additional clauses, pages or words have been added or removed without my knowledge or permission," Mariani told us during an interview at a Londonderry, New Hampshire restaurant last week.
"Mr. Morgan never presented me with a contract for representation before asking for my signature; and the court clerk told me he hasn't even registered with the Rockingham Court as my co-estate attorney," she said, adding "I am concerned about how I was represented in this matter."
Mariani continued, "Mr. Morgan wanted to bring my other New Hampshire attorney Rebecca Rutter to the meeting to get me to sign away my estate to Lauren Peters; but I would not meet with her after I recently discovered that the only way she could have a bigger conflict of interest was if President Bush appointed Rebecca as U.S. attorney instead of her law partner, Tom Colantuono."
According to public court records, Mariani told Judge O'Neill: "Your Honor, I am concerned that my public testimony and the so-called errors of my attorney Phillip Berg will never be placed into the court record for your consideration. Mr. Morgan and Miss Rutter have told me they do not know the official reasons yet; but they said they will provide them after I have signed all the necessary documents that will remove me from control of my husband's estate."
According to Mariani, Robert Morgan, the attorney representing her legal interests, "insisted that I 'sign the document and resign now because you are really only a glorified clerk. So just let it go, enjoy your life now, and admit that Mr. Berg's mistakes reflected back on your judgement since you hired him to assist in your husband's estate.' "
The court records also revealed that Phillip Berg claimed not to have made any legal errors in the case according to Mariani--absent a court-adjudicated legal opinion from Judge O'Neill--since Mariani said:
"No one on either side of this case presented me with legal documentation as to the nature of these so-called grave errors and fatal flaws which Phillip Berg committed. Mr. Berg even told me last night (last Wednesday) that 'these legal claims and accusations are not valid. I did nothing wrong.' "
Mariani said in the petition that "Rebecca Rutter and Robert Morgan told me that I was going to lose the MOTION TO REMOVE ELLEN M. MARIANI AS ADMINISTRATRIX anyway."
The petitiion also said "They told me to just accept it and not fight it because my Pennsylvania attorney had made several mistakes, one of which was filing on my behalf a RICO lawsuit against President Bush and other high government officials....apparently, for some reason, Rebecca Rutter, Robert Morgan (and opposing counsel) Thomas Pappas and Charles Capace did not want me in court this morning to testify in front of you, Your Honor."
Mariani also told Judge O'Neill "Lauren Peters went to Boston and met with Daniel Bakinowski, an attorney with the Greenberg Traurig law firm. The Greenberg firm represented President Bush in the 2000 election vote recount and currently represents the President's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. I believe this to be a conflict of interest."
Foretelling what eventually happened, Mariani's court petition said "Mr. Bakinowski told Rebecca Rutter, 'Don't worry. We're going to take her into court and remove her.' And that's what they had planned and it happened to me today. I wanted Rebecca to report this telephone conversation to your court, and she refused. But she also said 'If you publicize anything about Dan Bakinowski's telephone call, I will quit.' "
Mariani told us she is guardedly optimistic that Judge O'Neill will consider all the facts surrounding her case and declare the resignation agreement null and void, and that she will retain her position as administratrix of her late husband's estate."
CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE COURT PETITION FILED BY ELLEN MARIANI