By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Accountant Paul Salver, who is also trying to collect money from the Count's estate, echoes Milstein, criticizing MacNamara for challenging the disbursement of accounting and brokerage fees that do not represent any threat to the Count Tassilo Szechenyi Trust: "Litigation of relatively minor issues in the probate of this estate is being pursued at the expense of the creditors and beneficiaries of this estate by parties that are uninterested in the resolution of such issues," Salver wrote to the court in August. "Further, due to the severe animosity and hostility between the `MacNamara group' and the `Phelps group,' significant legal, judicial, and financial resources are being expended to pursue matters which are not intended to resolve the probate of this estate."
At MacNamara's suggestion, lawyer David Berg was appointed by the court as successor administrator ad litem to the estate. In a September 3, 1991, status conference before Judge Newbold, MacNamara stated that he had been named by Judge Tendrich as co-trustee of the Count Tassilo Szechenyi Trust, replacing Phelps, yet he was unable to produce an order showing that was the case. Phelps, Salver, and Rodez say they have no memory of MacNamara being appointed. Further, the administrative rules of the Count's trust state that only a majority of beneficiaries, or another trustee, can name new trustees to govern the fund. In declining to be interviewed for this story, MacNamara also refused to clarify his formal status vis-a-vis the trust.
Mike Phelps says he's convinced that his version of events will be vindicated by the Florida Bar. He and his new lawyer Frank Gliozzo plan to file a separate lawsuit against MacNamara and Jackson next month, charging conspiracy and misrepresentation. But a recent turn of events has withered his enthusiasm for the fight. Two weeks ago he underwent surgery for an infection to an old stab wound. The condition, he says, was partly brought on by stress. Phelps's coloring does not look good these days.
At the Dade County Courthouse on West Flagler Street, the situation doesn't look much better. The latest judge to preside over the estate of Count Tassilo Szechenyi received an introduction to the case a few weeks ago during what will almost certainly not be the affair's last status conference:
The Court: I'm brand-new at this. Why is this a bankrupt estate...?
MacNamara: Judge, if I may explain.
The Court: Yes, sir. I wish somebody would, because I'm getting deeper and deeper and more confused....