Man Claims Former Scores Dancer Stripped His Dead Dad of Gold Coins
MIDTOWN EAST — Call it naked greed.
The son of a Manhattan businessman claims his dead dad’s ex-con stripper wife absconded with her hubby’s rare gold coins and silver bullion as well as hundreds of thousands in cash.
Steven Bruni is demanding that his dad’s fourth wife, Christy Yamanaka, return four silver bars and dozens of gold and silver coins that she allegedly took from a safe in his father’s Tudor City apartment, according to court filings.
Bruni also accuses Yamanaka, a 53-year-old former Scores dancer who was once convicted of bank fraud, of failing to explain why his dad, Irving Schwartz, gave her a $320,000 check shortly before his death in 2011 — even though the couple was on the verge of splitting up.
As proof of the souring marriage, Bruni claims in a legal filing in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court that Schwartz sent a June 5, 2011, email to Yamanaka telling her that they were over.
“GOOD LUCK WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. IF I STAY WITH YOU IT WILL KILL ME,” Schwartz wrote in all caps, according to Bruni.
In the email, Schwartz harped on Yamanaka’s wasteful spending and complained that she wouldn’t sleep with him unless he paid her.
“You’ve said a lot of things to me that were hurtful, such as you would not have sex with me unless I paid you $10,000,” Schwartz wrote, according to Bruni’s filing.
Schwartz also griped in the email that Yamanka constantly suspected him of cheating and even asked for money to hire investigators to tail him.
“Last week in my car you picked up a napkin I used when I had while driving and wiped my mouth from the sandwich I was eating you right away accused me of cheating again saying it was foundation from a womans makeup,” he wrote, according Bruni.
Yamanaka did not respond to a call for comment.
Schwartz, the owner of cleaning firm Safeguard Environmental Services, died of heart failure at 81 on Aug. 29, 2011.
He and Yamanaka married in the summer of 2010, six weeks before she pleaded guilty in federal court to scheming with a friend, Florida judge Thomas Stringer, to hide her assets from creditors. Yamanaka was sentenced to a year of supervised release.
The legal fight over Schwartz’s estate started two weeks after his death.
At the time, Bruni asked a judge for control of the estate and questioned the circumstances surrounding Schwartz’s last will. It had been drafted and signed on the day of his death, according to Bruni.
Bruni said in his initial filing that he was also suspicious of his dad’s death. His then lawyer, Charles Mirotznik, noted that the city’s Chief Medical Examiner’s Office was performing an autopsy for “possible foul play.”
The autopsy report eventually showed Schwartz died of natural causes — but Bruni later said that even Yamanaka’s lawyer, Michael M. Lippman, confided in 2012 that he had misgivings about her.
“You know, when we were waiting for the autopsy report, and I came up to [Yamanaka’s] house to talk to her, and she’d offer me stuff to drink, I wouldn’t take it,” Lippman said in a conversation to Bruni, according to a March 2013 filing.
Lippman did not respond to a request for comment. But he has his own legal troubles. Bronx prosecutors charged him in 2010 with taking $300,000 in unauthorized fees from the estates of dead people while working as counsel to the Bronx public administrator.
He pleaded not guilty and is currently on trial, according to court records.
Bruni, who lives in Pearl River, N.Y., did not respond to requests for comments. A judge has appointed him the temporary administrator of Schwartz’s estate.
However, earlier this week, his former lawyer, Charles Mirotnik, filed legal papers with the court, demanding that Bruni pay him for his services in 2012.
Bruni believes Yamanaka — who worked as an exotic dancer in the 2000s in Florida and at the Scores strip club on the Upper East Side — is now living in Nevada but has ignored his requests to account for his dad’s missing gold and cash.