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Chabad files suit for estate

Jewish center’s leader, Rabbi Reuven Mintz, claims former Rat Pack member wanted to set up foundation in his name.

March 12, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Longtime Newport Beach resident and Rat Pack comedian Joey Bishop’s longtime, live-in companion this week settled part of her lawsuit alleging that the late entertainer’s financial planners tried to cheat her out of part of his estate. Now Newport Beach Chabad Center, a Jewish community center and religious organization claims that Bishop intended to leave part of his multimillion-dollar estate to found a children’s charity, court documents obtained by the Daily Pilot show.

Nora Garibotti, Bishop’s former golfing companion, who lived with him in the later years of his life, stands to inherit 70% of Bishop’s residual estate, according to the terms of the settlement, agreed upon Monday in Los Angeles County probate court. The remaining 30% will be divided between Bishop’s agent, Ed “Hook” Hookstratten, who once represented Elvis Presley, and Bishop’s financial advisor, Myles Hymes, according to court documents.

A lawsuit Newport Beach Chabad Center filed last week in Orange County Superior Court claims that Bishop’s attorney, agent, financial advisor and live-in caretaker blocked Bishop’s final wishes to have part of his estate go toward setting up a charity for special-needs children in Orange County.

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Chabad’s suit names Hookstratten, Orange County attorney James “Kimo” McCormick, Hymes and Garibotti.

Newport Beach Chabad is seeking damages in excess of $10 million for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, according to court documents.

The lawsuit claims Bishop intended to leave part of his money to Chabad to benefit the charity’s programs for special-needs children, but Hookstratten, Garibotti, Hymes and McCormick took advantage of the Rat Packer’s deteriorating mental faculties to usurp his estate.

In the suit, Chabad claims Bishop’s mental and physical health deteriorated over the final years of his life. Bishop, who once performed with other Rat Pack legends such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in September 2004.

By that time, Bishop had trouble remembering the names of his deceased wife, grandchildren and his fellow Rat Pack members, according to legal documents. Bishop also could not identify Garibotti as his caretaker, and mistakenly identified her as a male assistant during an examination by a neurologist, the lawsuit claims.

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