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Homeless Man Says He's Been Waiting Three Years to Get $100,000 Inheritance

By James Fanelli | September 25, 2015 7:42am
 Homeless man Rafael Lebron said he has waited for more than three years to receive a $100,000 inheritance from a dead friend.
Homeless man Rafael Lebron said he has waited for more than three years to receive a $100,000 inheritance from a dead friend.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A homeless man has been desperately waiting for more than three years to receive a $100,000 inheritance that he hopes will put a roof back over his head, court papers charge.

Rafael Lebron said in an affidavit earlier this month in Manhattan Surrogate's Court that his publishing pal Winfield Huppuch left him the money in a will, but the executor of his friend's estate won't fork over the cash.

Huppuch, a Harvard graduate and vice president at Prentice-Hall Publishers, died at 72 on April 3, 2012. His will leaves $100,000 of his $2.3 million estate to Lebron. Huppuch also left Lebron his dog, Lucky.

Lebron said in the affidavit that Huppuch's brother, the executor, refuses to pay him the money but gave him Lucky, whom he cared for until the pooch died.

"I feel that the executor will never comply with my friend's wishes and he has used the money left to me by my friend," Lebron said in an affidavit.

Lebron's lawyer, Amelio Marino, said in an affidavit that he has been homeless for the past three years.

"At the present time Rafael Lebron is destitute and has lost his apartment," Lebron's lawyer, Amelio Marino, said in an affidavit. "He also lost his job and therefore is living on the street looking for handouts."

Lebron wants a judge to compel the executor, Thomas Huppuch, to distribute the $100,000 to him. Lebron is scheduled to appear in Manhattan Surrogate's Court Friday.

In a 2012 case in Manhattan Housing Court, Lebron said that he lived with Winfield Huppuch for 14 years in his friend's Upper West Side apartment. In an affidavit, Lebron claimed that he had been wrongfully locked out of the apartment by Thomas Huppuch after Winfield died.

"I had nowhere to go; I had no where to sleep; even my shaving cream was left in [in the unit],'" Lebron said.

As proof of his residence, Lebron submitted his food stamp application that listed Huppuch's address. He asked that housing court judge to order Thomas Huppuch to let him back in the apartment. But the judge dismissed the case.

Neither Thomas Huppuch nor his lawyer, Geoffrey Ward, responded to a request for comment.

In a 2013 filing in Manhattan Surrogate's Court, Ward described Lebron as an "acquaintance."

Ward said he was contacted by Winfield Huppuch shortly before the publisher's death in April 2012 to revise his will. Ward said Huppuch sent him a marked-up copy of the will that showed him the changes he wanted to make. The marked-up copy eliminated Lebron's $100,000 inheritance, according to Ward.

However, Winfield died before a draft of the new will could be made official, Ward said.

Days before and after Winfield's death, thousands of dollars were withdrawn from his Chase account and were never found, according to Ward.

Ward said after the housing court case, Lebron and Marino offered to take $45,000 to settle his inheritance. Ward said he prepared a settlement agreement but he then never heard back from Marino or Lebron.

Ward said he hired a private investigator to track down Lebron but came up empty.

Marino declined to comment on the case. Lebron could not be reached.