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Appeal rejected in dispute over Joey Bishop estate

Court will not hear Chabad center’s claim that the late ‘Rat Pack’ member wanted some of his estate to help special-needs children in Orange County.

January 15, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

The California Supreme Court this week rejected a Jewish organization’s appeal against the estate of Joey Bishop, the late entertainer and member of the “Rat Pack.” But the legal battle over his fortune isn’t over yet, an attorney for the Newport Beach Chabad Center said Friday.

The center filed several lawsuits and claims against Bishop’s estate, alleging that the entertainer’s advisors and live-in caretaker blocked his final wishes to have part of his estate go toward setting up a charity for special-needs children in Orange County. A longtime resident of Newport Beach, Bishop died Oct. 17, 2007, at his Lido Isle home at the age of 89.

The court declined to hear the case based on technical reasons, and did not address the merits of Chabad’s case, attorney Bob Weinberg, who represents Chabad, said Friday.

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“Mr. Bishop was the victim of elder abuse. The lawyers and accountant and the housekeeper got Mr. Bishop’s money despite Mr. Bishop’s repeated statements that he wished the bulk of his estate to go to charities run by Chabad,” Weinberg said. “The court did not ever address nor reject the truth of these contentions.”

Chabad is still weighing its legal options, but the fight is far from over, Weinberg said.

“Chabad is going to continue to fight for the vindication of Joey Bishop’s wishes,” he said.

In a written statement released Thursday through her attorneys after the court had made its ruling, Bishop’s live-in girlfriend and caretaker, Nora Garibotti, blasted Newport Beach Chabad Rabbi Reuven Mintz.

In court filings, Chabad has claimed Garibotti was only Bishop’s housekeeper, and that she and the entertainer’s lawyers and accountant conspired to usurp his estate.

Garibotti and her attorneys have always maintained that she and Bishop were in a long-term, committed relationship, and that he wanted her to inherit at least part of his estate.

Mintz was once a spiritual advisor to Bishop and has maintained that the late entertainer wanted the bulk of his estate to go toward The Friendship Circle, a Chabad program that provides outings and summer camps for special-needs children.

Garibotti claims that Bishop decided in 2005 that he did not want to leave his money to charity.

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