Posted: April 23, 2015
RICHARD KORN GETS HIS
By Celia Cohen
Never has a judge needed the blindfold of Justice more than Sam Glasscock III. He might have had to hold his nose, too.
Glasscock, a vice chancellor on the Court of Chancery, had to sort out an ugly, ugly case.
It was brought by Richard Korn, the serial candidate who bombed in New York politics and then came to Delaware, only to get rejected here, too, with losses in a Democratic primary for New Castle County executive in 2004, state representative in 2006 and state auditor in 2010.
Korn sued his own mother, who is in her 90s. In the early going in the lawsuit, he wanted her home sold from under her with half the proceeds going to him. He vowed he would keep her from being buried with her late husband in a cemetery plot, bought with her money but put in his name.
"I have taken care of things so you can NEVER be buried there -- EVER," Korn wrote to his mother in a letter that made its way into the court record.
It was up to Glasscock to put all that sordidness aside and decide who was entitled to what.
"It is hard to imagine equitable litigation more unpleasant than a dispute -- over money and property -- between a middle-aged child and his nonagenarian mother," Glasscock wrote in his opinion released Wednesday. "I must determine the parties' ownership rights."
There are considerable assets at stake, notably an investment account once worth more than $1 million, a Hockessin condominium where Korn's mother lived, although Glasscock noted she more recently moved to an assisted living residence, and the gravesite.
As Glasscock recounted, Richard Korn is the son of Sylvia Korn and Phillip Korn, a New York lawyer who died in 2004. As Sylvia Korn turned 90 in 2010, she added Richard Korn's name to her investment account and the title of her condo and gave him a check for $4,000 for the burial plot, which he put in his own name.
Sylvia Korn gave Richard Korn money, a lot of it, including $200,000 to help him buy a house and various other amounts through the years. Richard Korn also helped himself to $650,000 from the investment account, as the court record showed.
Sylvia Korn finally cut him off in 2012. By then, the investment account was worth $303,000, and it is now down to $111,500 in funds being held in escrow.
Richard Korn sued in 2013 to have the court give him half of the investment account and make his mother sell the condo and give him half of the money, although he later withdrew that demand.
What was in dispute was whether Sylvia Korn was giving her son gifts or he was draining her dry.
As the lawyer for Sylvia Korn once put it, "She's holding on for dear life to her purse."
Glasscock methodically examined the claims:
-- He found the money that went toward the purchase of a house for Richard Korn was indeed a gift, not least because Sylvia Korn had done the same for her daughter.
--He left Sylvia Korn and Richard Korn stuck with each other as joint owners of the condo.
--He directed the cemetery plot go to Sylvia Korn.
--He gave what was left of the investment account to Sylvia Korn and told Richard Korn he was accountable for the money he took.
It was left unsaid what else Richard Korn lost in this case. That would be any prayer of returning to politics, not for someone who sued his own mother and threatened her eternal rest.