In an action for divorce, is an illegal numbers and loan-sharking business operated by the parties marital property requiring equitable distribution? This issue is apparently one of first impression in this State.
In open court, pursuant to an oral agreement, the parties each took an inquest against the other in their respective divorce actions, defendant was awarded custody of the infant issue and plaintiff was granted visitation.
In addition, pursuant to the said oral agreement, all ancillary and economic issues were referred to the trial court.
By a fair preponderance of all the credible evidence, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
The parties were married on March 11, 1972, in New York State. There is one issue of the marriage, namely, Michael Richard LaPaglia, born on July 20, 1973. The infant issue resides with defendant at the marital residence located in Hewlett, New York.
In 1974 the parties bought three small buildings, which were income-producing properties. Then in early 1976, the parties sold the properties and used the proceeds to buy a luncheonette and the building in which it was located. Both parties worked at the luncheonette, "Dotti's Hero", on a full-time basis, with plaintiff working principally as a counterman and defendant maintaining the books and records.
In August 1982, the parties sold "Dotti's Hero" for $117,000 and the building for $108,000 and took back two mortgages covering the entire purchase price.
In 1983 the parties purchase a commercial building on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. It consisted of a store and two income-producing apartments. The parties operated the store as a candy and convenience food store under the name of "M and R Candy Store" and as an illegal numbers and loan-sharking business as well. Both parties worked in the store until July 1985 when the defendant voluntarily ceased working there. The illegal activities of the parties at the candy store are known to law enforcement officials.
The uncontroverted fair market value of the Atlantic Avenue building is $48,000. With respect to the candy store, defendant's expert testified that the fair market value of "M and R Candy Store" is $85,000 and, if he considers the illegal activities there, then the value is increased to $200,000. Plaintiff had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned regarding his income from "M and R Candy Store".
On September 5, 1975 the parties purchased the marital home from accumulated marital savings, which the court-appointed appraiser valued at $221,000.
The court-appointed appraiser valued the furniture and furnishings in the marital residence at $9,000 and found the value of the 1984 Cadillac, which is presently held by the defendant, to be $10,250, and the value of the 1979 ...