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Mom of DA Ken Thompson Says His Wife Splurged and Took Trip as He Was Dying

By James Fanelli | January 11, 2017 7:24am
 Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
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DNAinfo/Shayna Jacobs

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson wanted to divorce his wife and stopped living in the same apartment with her shortly before he died because she burned through money and took off on a three-week trip to Martha's Vineyard as his health rapidly declined, his mother says in court papers.

Clara Thompson — his mother, whose hard work in raising the DA and his siblings on her own inspired him to become the borough's top prosecutor — said in a legal filing in Brooklyn Surrogate's Court last month that her son's wife, Lu-Shawn, had him rewrite his will on his deathbed because she didn't want to share his sizeable estate with the rest of his family.

"Indeed, recognizing Kenneth's imminent demise, it appeared that her biggest concern was not the welfare of her dying husband, but rather, insuring that she was the recipient of his estate to the exclusion of any of his other family members," Clara Thompson said in the filing.

Her court filing demands that a judge order Lu-Shawn to provide a copy of Thompson's penultimate will because she said it shows he planned to leave his mother money. The filing says Lu-Shawn's attorney has declined to hand over a copy of the previous will to Clara or her lawyer.

Thompson, Brooklyn's first black district attorney, died of cancer at age 50 on Oct. 9, 2016. His death surprised many as he had only publicly announced his illness less than a week earlier. 

Thompson had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in April, but by the early summer it had metastasized to his brain, according to his mom. She said the chemotherapy, pain medication and anti-depressants her son took made him delusional and incoherent at times. 

As his health declined, so did his marriage, the mom's court filing says.

"Kenneth found little solace and compassion in Lu-Shawn during this time," Clara said.

WATCH: Campaign Video of Ken Thompson Featuring His Mom

While Thompson received guidance and nurturing growing up, Lu-Shawn was raised in a dysfunctional household, lived in foster care, "and had no sense of a close and loving family," the mom said.

"These issues, most particularly, Lu-Shawn's unbridled spending, created tremendous tension between the two of them, indeed, so much so, that in the last months of his life, Kenneth had stopped speaking with Lu-Shawn, began residing in a separate apartment in his home, had essentially cut her off financially, and communicated to me and other family members that he was seriously considering divorce," Clara said.

Thompson's sister, Catherine Adams Gaskin, said in an affidavit accompanying her mother's filing that Thompson went through three periods of marital difficulties since he and Lu-Shawn wed in 1999.

Gaskin, who goes by the nickname Cinda, said Thompson most recently confessed he wanted a divorce in an Aug. 4, 2016 text.

"Cinda, I have to divorce Lu-Shawn. She's making my situation worse," Thompson wrote in the text to his sister, which she quoted in the affidavit.

Gaskin said when she spoke to Thompson about the text, she told him to trust in God and focus on getting healthy.

"I told him that it was my belief that because of the seriousness of his condition (mental, emotional and physical), going through a divorce would be too stressful a fight while he was also fighting cancer," Gaskin said.

Three days after the text, Lu-Shawn took off with Thompson's two children to Martha's Vineyard for a three-week vacation, according to Gaskin. However, a source said the trip to Martha's Vineyard was an annual family vacation.

"Ken told me at this time that he had blocked Lu-Shawn from being able to call him on his cellphone," Gaskin said.

While Lu-Shawn was vacationing, his mother took care of him at his Teaneck, N.J., home. Thompson also owned a townhouse in Clinton Hill.

When he returned to Brooklyn, he lived in a separate apartment in the town house — not in the master bedroom with his wife, according to Gaskin.

Less than two weeks before he died, Thompson executed a will that only favored Lu-Shawn, Gaskin said.

"While the will refers to our mother and me at various places and in various capacities, it is clear that the entire estate, as a practical matter, is effectively going to Lu-Shawn," Gaskin said in her affidavit. "I respectfully submit that that was not Ken's intention."

The will that was filed in Brooklyn Surrogate's Court says that Thompson had $750,000 — and it all went to his wife and kids in a series of trusts. His mom and sister said that he also had millions of dollars that weren't included as assets in the will.

Clara Thompson, a retired NYPD officer, said she and her son were close his entire life and that she became his role model after she and his dad divorced when he was 7 and she was forced to raise him and his two siblings on her own.

"Kenneth had always promised that he would take care of me financially, and make provisions for me in his will," Clara said in her filing. "Having watched me work tirelessly to take care of him and his siblings after his father and I divorced, Kenneth did not want me to ever worry about money in my later years."

Lori Douglass, a lawyer for Lu-Shawn Thompson, did not respond to requests for comment.

John Morken, Clara's lawyer, also did not respond to a request for comment.