Burt Pugach dies and leaves entire $15M estate to his caregiver

Brash New York lawyer Burt Pugach shot to infamy in the late 1950s when he hired goons to viciously blind his young lover with lye for ending their affair.

In an equally sensational sequel, he left prison 14 years later and persuaded his disfigured victim, Linda Riss, to marry him.

It should probably come as no surprise, therefore, that Pugach’s death on Christmas Eve has triggered a fresh intrigue every bit as perplexing as the couple’s warped love story.

DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal that the 93-year-old, whose wife died seven years ago, has left his $15 million estate to an attractive female ‘caregiver’ nearly half his age.

But already the funds have been frozen by a judge after friends and former colleagues accused Shamin ‘Sheila’ Frawley of coercing Pugach into changing his will after he suffered a stroke.

Explosive court documents obtained by this website go so far as alleging that married Frawley, 52, then withdrew food and medicine from her ailing ‘patient’ until he died.

New York lawyer Burt Pugach died aged 93 on Christmas Eve, DailyMail.com can disclose. Pugach shot to infamy in the late 1950s when he hired goons to blind his young lover Linda Riss with lye for ending their affair, yet married her 14 years later (pictured together)

New York lawyer Burt Pugach died aged 93 on Christmas Eve, DailyMail.com can disclose. Pugach shot to infamy in the late 1950s when he hired goons to blind his young lover Linda Riss with lye for ending their affair, yet married her 14 years later (pictured together)

New York lawyer Burt Pugach died aged 93 on Christmas Eve, DailyMail.com can disclose. Pugach shot to infamy in the late 1950s when he hired goons to blind his young lover Linda Riss with lye for ending their affair, yet married her 14 years later (pictured together)

It should probably come as no surprise, therefore, that Pugach¿s death on Christmas Eve has triggered a fresh intrigue every bit as perplexing as the couple¿s warped love story

It should probably come as no surprise, therefore, that Pugach¿s death on Christmas Eve has triggered a fresh intrigue every bit as perplexing as the couple¿s warped love story

It should probably come as no surprise, therefore, that Pugach’s death on Christmas Eve has triggered a fresh intrigue every bit as perplexing as the couple’s warped love story

DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal that Pugach has left his $15 million estate to attractive female ¿caregiver¿ Shamin ¿Sheila¿ Frawley (pictured), 52. But the funds were frozen by a judge after friends and ex colleagues accused Frawley of coercing Pugach into changing his will after he suffered a stroke

DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal that Pugach has left his $15 million estate to attractive female ¿caregiver¿ Shamin ¿Sheila¿ Frawley (pictured), 52. But the funds were frozen by a judge after friends and ex colleagues accused Frawley of coercing Pugach into changing his will after he suffered a stroke

DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal that Pugach has left his $15 million estate to attractive female ‘caregiver’ Shamin ‘Sheila’ Frawley (pictured), 52. But the funds were frozen by a judge after friends and ex colleagues accused Frawley of coercing Pugach into changing his will after he suffered a stroke 

Pugach revised his will at least five times after Linda succumbed to heart failure in 2013, gifting differing amounts to friends, but always leaving the bulk of the money to a foundation for the visually impaired set up in his late wife’s honor.

The foundation was left with nothing, however, when the will was updated for the final time in October, several months after Pugach went to live in Flushing with Frawley and her husband William, 55.

‘Burt lived his entire life for Linda. I cannot imagine that under any circumstances, as incapacitated as he was, that he would even think to cut out the foundation,’ their attorney, Peter S. Thomas, told DailyMail.com about the allegations made in recently filed court documents.

‘Sheila cared for him to a point, and she was going to be left a substantial sum of money, about $5 million.

‘But apparently that was not enough for Sheila. So less than three months before he died, she had his will changed. What they did to this man was absolutely disgusting.’

This week three of Pugach’s oldest friends – all beneficiaries under previous versions of the will – obtained a temporary injunction to stop Frawley withdrawing the $15m.

And in January they will go before a judge to demand the latest will is torn up, citing Frawley’s ‘undue influence’ over the rich widower.

Frawley hung up on a reporter and did not respond to further messages asking for comment.

Adding to the intrigue, the mother-of-two filed for uncontested divorce in October – the same month the will was changed – according to court entries seen by DailyMail.com.

Thomas claims it was all part of the plot to claim Pugach’s money.

The foundation was left with nothing, however, when the will was updated for the final time in October, several months after Pugach went to live in Flushing with Frawley and her husband William, 55 (pictured together)

The foundation was left with nothing, however, when the will was updated for the final time in October, several months after Pugach went to live in Flushing with Frawley and her husband William, 55 (pictured together)

The foundation was left with nothing, however, when the will was updated for the final time in October, several months after Pugach went to live in Flushing with Frawley and her husband William, 55 (pictured together) 

This week three of Pugach's oldest friends ¿ all beneficiaries under previous versions of the will - obtained a temporary injunction to stop Frawley withdrawing the $15m. Adding to the intrigue, the mother-of-two filed for uncontested divorce in October ¿ the same month the will was changed ¿ according to paperwork seen by DailyMail.com

This week three of Pugach's oldest friends ¿ all beneficiaries under previous versions of the will - obtained a temporary injunction to stop Frawley withdrawing the $15m. Adding to the intrigue, the mother-of-two filed for uncontested divorce in October ¿ the same month the will was changed ¿ according to paperwork seen by DailyMail.com

This week three of Pugach’s oldest friends – all beneficiaries under previous versions of the will – obtained a temporary injunction to stop Frawley withdrawing the $15m. Adding to the intrigue, the mother-of-two filed for uncontested divorce in October – the same month the will was changed – according to paperwork seen by DailyMail.com

Pugach is said to have become ‘enchanted’ with Frawley, her husband, and their daughters, developing a friendship with her after striking up conversation inside a Queens deli in 2016.

‘In March, when Burt went into Sheila’s house and was paralyzed, he still had the idea he would get better and eventually move out,’ Thomas said.

‘She convinced Burt to swing more than $15m from the estate to her in a new will drafted by a new attorney.’

DailyMail.com put a list of Thomas’s allegations to Steven Bracco, the lawyer responsible for the updated October 2020 will, but he did not respond.

Pugach was married to another woman when he first crossed paths with Linda Riss, a 22-year-old secretary from the Bronx who bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor.

A successful older man with a nightclub and a private plane, he wined and dined her until she grew impatient with his failed promises to divorce his first wife.

When Linda broke off the relationship and got engaged to another man Pugach warned her: ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you.’

True to his word he hired three thugs in 1959 who splashed her with lye, though he later claimed in interviews that he merely asked them to beat her up.

Pugach was married to another woman when he first crossed paths with Linda Riss, a 22-year-old secretary from the Bronx who bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor

Pugach was married to another woman when he first crossed paths with Linda Riss, a 22-year-old secretary from the Bronx who bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor

Pugach was married to another woman when he first crossed paths with Linda Riss, a 22-year-old secretary from the Bronx who bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor

When Linda broke off the relationship and got engaged to another man Pugach warned her: 'If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you'

When Linda broke off the relationship and got engaged to another man Pugach warned her: 'If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you'

When Linda broke off the relationship and got engaged to another man Pugach warned her: ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you’ 

True to his word he hired three thugs in 1959 who splashed her with lye, though he later claimed in interviews that he merely asked them to beat her up. The abrasive chemical, commonly used in alkaline drain cleaners, left Linda blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, and she hid her injuries behind oversized, dark sunglasses for the rest of her life

True to his word he hired three thugs in 1959 who splashed her with lye, though he later claimed in interviews that he merely asked them to beat her up. The abrasive chemical, commonly used in alkaline drain cleaners, left Linda blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, and she hid her injuries behind oversized, dark sunglasses for the rest of her life

True to his word he hired three thugs in 1959 who splashed her with lye, though he later claimed in interviews that he merely asked them to beat her up. The abrasive chemical, commonly used in alkaline drain cleaners, left Linda blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, and she hid her injuries behind oversized, dark sunglasses for the rest of her life

Her decision 14 years later to marry Pugach when he finished his sentence ¿ by then divorced and disbarred because of his felony conviction - dumbfounded friends and family while gripping the media. Pictured: The couple in 1974

Her decision 14 years later to marry Pugach when he finished his sentence ¿ by then divorced and disbarred because of his felony conviction - dumbfounded friends and family while gripping the media. Pictured: The couple in 1974

Her decision 14 years later to marry Pugach when he finished his sentence – by then divorced and disbarred because of his felony conviction – dumbfounded friends and family while gripping the media. Pictured: The couple in 1974

'We loved each other more than any other couple could have,' Pugach wept in a New York Times interview after his wife's death. 'Ours was a storybook romance'

'We loved each other more than any other couple could have,' Pugach wept in a New York Times interview after his wife's death. 'Ours was a storybook romance'

‘We loved each other more than any other couple could have,’ Pugach wept in a New York Times interview after his wife’s death. ‘Ours was a storybook romance’

The abrasive chemical, commonly used in alkaline drain cleaners, left Linda blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, and she hid her injuries behind oversized, dark sunglasses for the rest of her life.

Her decision 14 years later to marry Pugach when he finished his sentence – by then divorced and disbarred because of his felony conviction – dumbfounded friends and family while gripping the media.

Against all odds, their second act lasted for 39 years and became the subject of numerous articles, a book and the 2007 documentary, Crazy Love

Against all odds, their second act lasted for 39 years and became the subject of numerous articles, a book and the 2007 documentary, Crazy Love

Against all odds, their second act lasted for 39 years and became the subject of numerous articles, a book and the 2007 documentary, Crazy Love

Against all odds, their second act lasted for 39 years and became the subject of numerous articles, a book and the 2007 documentary, Crazy Love.

‘We loved each other more than any other couple could have,’ Pugach wept in a New York Times interview after his wife’s death. ‘Ours was a storybook romance.’

According to the new suit, Pugach made millions on stocks and always intended the bulk of it to go to the Burton and Linda Pugach Charitable Foundation, ‘a foundation the deceased had created in honor of his late wife Linda Pugach, whom he loved dearly and wanted to honor after his passing.’

But in a sworn affidavit, attorney Peter Gordon, who helped draw up previous versions of Pugach’s will, said that the beneficiaries suddenly changed after he suffered a stroke and was paralyzed down the left side of his body.

‘He did not return to his home, an apartment in Rego Park where he and Linda had resided for more than 40 years and instead resided in the first floor of Sheila’s home,’ stated Gordon, who hired Pugach as a paralegal after he was disbarred.

Gordon said he noticed during visits to Frawley’s home that his associate of three decades was ‘susceptible to undue influence in that he was isolated from his friends’ and dependent on her for his meals, medication and personal hygiene. ‘He would refer to Sheila as Mommy’, Gordon added.

Gordon and his wife Maris – both plaintiffs in the case – say they were due to receive $1m from Pugach’s estate, while Frawley was in line for $5m – until her share was dramatically increased.

‘I have learned after his passing that during the period of Burt’s confinement, March 2020 through to his demise, approximately $15m was pledged to relatives and friends of Sheila,’ Gordon stated.

Gordon said he noticed during visits to Frawley's home that his associate of three decades was 'susceptible to undue influence in that he was isolated from his friends' and dependent on her for his meals, medication and personal hygiene. 'He would refer to Sheila as Mommy', Gordon added

Gordon said he noticed during visits to Frawley's home that his associate of three decades was 'susceptible to undue influence in that he was isolated from his friends' and dependent on her for his meals, medication and personal hygiene. 'He would refer to Sheila as Mommy', Gordon added

Gordon said he noticed during visits to Frawley’s home that his associate of three decades was ‘susceptible to undue influence in that he was isolated from his friends’ and dependent on her for his meals, medication and personal hygiene. ‘He would refer to Sheila as Mommy’, Gordon added

‘Unfortunately $5m was not enough for her and she was not finished until she had received all the money.’

The third plaintiff, longtime friend Samuel Jacobowitz, claims he lost out on his $5m share when Pugach’s will changed.

‘I had visited Mr Pugach on at least 50 occasions since he lived at the home of Sheila where it appeared he was cared for and all his needs were being met until she stopped. Stopped feeding him and took his life. Claiming that was Burt’s wishes.

‘This all occurred after all the changes in the beneficiaries and a new will was prepared and executed sometime in October 2020,’ Jacobowitz wrote in his affidavit.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Risi granted the friends a temporary injunction ahead of a January 13 court hearing. Their suit demands $15m in damages.

TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, JP Morgan, TD Bank and Merrill Lynch are all listed as defendants in the case because they hold Pugach’s money. 

Burt Pugach was ‘enchanted’ with glamorous caregiver – echoing intense obsession he had for his late wife, friends say

Grieving pals told DailyMail.com how Burt Pugach became ‘enchanted’ with his glamorous younger caregiver – echoing the intense obsession he had for his late wife Linda.

The rich widower is said to have become instantly smitten with Shamin ‘Sheila’ Frawley after striking up conversation during a 2016 meal at Ben’s Kosher Deli in Queens.

‘Burt was a flamboyant guy, fur coat, gold watch, nice car,’ said attorney Peter S. Thomas, who is suing Frawley on behalf of three of Pugach’s closest friends.  

Grieving pals told DailyMail.com how Burt Pugach became 'enchanted' with his glamorous younger caregiver - echoing the intense obsession he had for his late wife Linda

Grieving pals told DailyMail.com how Burt Pugach became 'enchanted' with his glamorous younger caregiver - echoing the intense obsession he had for his late wife Linda

The rich widower is said to have become instantly smitten with Shamin 'Sheila' Frawley after striking up conversation during a 2016 meal at Ben's Kosher Deli in Queens

The rich widower is said to have become instantly smitten with Shamin 'Sheila' Frawley after striking up conversation during a 2016 meal at Ben's Kosher Deli in Queens

Grieving pals told DailyMail.com how Burt Pugach became ‘enchanted’ with his glamorous younger caregiver – echoing the intense obsession he had for his late wife Linda

‘In March, when Burt went into Sheila’s house and was paralyzed, he still had the idea he would get better and eventually move out.

‘She convinced Burt to swing more than $15m from the estate to her in a new will drafted by a new attorney.’

Peter Gordon, one of the three people suing Frawley, claims she coerced Pugach into changing his will.

‘She was married, she was with her husband when they met. But he was enchanted with their family, this woman, her husband and their children,’ Gordon, who is also a lawyer, told DailyMail.com.

Social media accounts suggest Frawley has two young daughters, whom she regularly takes to New York Mets games.

It’s not immediately clear what credentials she has as a caregiver though it’s believed she had previously worked as a home health aide.

Court entries seen by DailyMail.com reveal Frawley filed for divorce from her husband William, 55, in October.

Frawley hung up when reached by telephone and did not respond to further requests for comment. 

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