Jeweler Conned by 'Spy' Posing as Robert De Niro's Pal, Lawsuit Says
A Brighton Beach man posed as an ex-secret agent who worked for Israel's version of the CIA and as a pal of Robert De Niro, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu to sweet talk his way into the life of a divorcee who owned a $30 million jewelry business, court papers say.
Yehuda Sadok, 48, struck up a May-December relationship with Upper East Side jeweler Emilie Martin, who was 30 years his senior, in 2009, wooing her with tales that he was one of the "top five Mossad agents" who kept a cyanide capsule in his tooth, according to court papers.
The cloak-and-dagger claims apparently charmed Martin — and nearly led her to take all of her jewelry to Dubai, where Sadok told her he had arranged for the nation's wealthy ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, to buy her baubles.
The shady business deal was only put on ice when Martin's incredulous daughters believed she was being taken for a ride and took legal action to prevent their mom from lugging her cache of gems to the Middle East.
While the daughters, Claudia DiFabrizio and Sarah Lee Martin, won the court case, they lost the love of their mother, who never forgave them for interceding.
Emilie died at 78 on Sept. 1, 2011. Before her death, she disinherited her kids and re-wrote her will, leaving most of her fortune to her siblings and their children, according to court papers.
The daughters are now suing in Manhattan Surrogate's Court to have that will thrown out and an earlier version — in which they're the beneficiares — reinstated.
Claudia and Sarah claim that their mother was diagnosed with paranoid narcissistic personality disorder, which can lead to greater susceptibility to suspicion and paranoia. When Emilie cut her children out of her will, she was suffering an insane delusion and lacked the right state of mind to make the decision, they claim.
The daughters point to her behavior with Sadok as proof.
Using the alias Oody Geffen, Sadok insinuated himself into Emilie's life and became a fixture at her business, E. Lee Martin Inc., a jewelry firm that sold its baubles at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus, according to one of the court filings.
Emilie's daughters, who also had a stake in the jewelry firm, accuse Sadok of really being a Russian mobster who planned to con their mom out of her lucrative business.
They say they heard Sadok's bogus stories first hand when they went to dinner with their mom and him one night in 2009.
He interrupted the meal to take a call. When he got off his cellphone, Sadok told Emilie and her daughters that the caller was his buddy De Niro and that he was going to make a movie with the "Goodfellas" star, according to court papers.
At other times, Sadok told Emilie that he fished with Russian president Putin, was friends with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and once killed an Arab man with his bare hands, according to the daughters.
"The stories Oody told Emilie would have been rejected by [James Bond creator] Ian Fleming as ridiculous," Claudia and Sarah say in one legal filing.
After becoming a close confidante to Emilie, Sadok persuaded her to sell $1.4 million in jewelry to a New York company allegedly serving as the agent for the Sheikh of Dubai, according to the filing. The daughters claim that their family business lost $170,000 in the deal, and Sadok received a $420,000 commission.
Later in 2009, Sadok allegedly proposed a second deal in which Emilie would take all her business' jewelry to Dubai for a private sale to the sheikh and his family.
"Smitten with him, she believed these lies wholeheartedly and thought that upon completing a jewelry deal that he was arranging with the Sheik of Dubai, they would live happily ever after in Abu Dhabi," the daughters say in a court filing.
To make the deal, Emilie recalled $20 million in jewelry that was out on consignment. But her worried daughters got a court order to block the sale, according to court papers.
Sadok, a married father of six, told DNAinfo New York on Friday that he was a close friend to Emilie but never claimed to be a spy or have famous friends.
"Robert De Niro, Mossad, who says something like that?" Sadok asked. "I never met Robert De Niro in my life."
When asked how he met Emilie, Sadok said that a former FBI agent had introduced him to her. Sadok said he was helping the FBI agent retrieve jewels for Emilie.
Sadok also said that he had a platonic friendship with Emilie and that his whole family, including his mother, got to know her.
"I heard all these stories. I'll be honest with you. Does it make any sense? I think it's very silly to say something like that," Sadok said when asked if he tried to romance Emilie.
"I was far away from doing anything to Emilie. [The daughters] knew that Emilie had approached me to a friendship."
Sadok also said he never made any money from the business deal with the sheikh and that Emilie disowned her daughters because they were cruel to her.
"She said that they were giving her a lot of hard times. They were always trying to control her," he said.
"Emilie is the most beautiful person. It hurts me that she died. She was a lonely person, very lonely. Always looking for friends. She was bright and very smart."
Lawyers for Claudia and Sarah did not respond to a request for comment.
The daughters say in court papers that their mom's will should be thrown out because she was not close to her siblings and their children.
However, Emilie's siblings have countered that the last will is legitimate and have asked a judge to approve it.
In a legal filing, a lawyer for Kevin Pei, the son of one of Emilie's sisters, said Emilie was of clear mind when she drafted the will.
The lawyer, Jules Epstein, said that Emilie disinherited her children because she said they had done a "horrible thing" by suing her over the Dubai deal and taking part of her business.
Epstein, who did not respond to a request for comment, said in the filing that the daughters haven't proved their mom was in a delusional state. Emilie might have been gullible to an experienced con artist, Epstein says, but not delusional.
"After all, some of the savviest and experienced investors were duped by Bernard Madoff," he wrote in the filing.
"Were all those investors who swallowed Madoff's investment returns 'hook, line and sinker' also suffering from insane delusions? Of course not."