Posted: June 6, 2013
GIFT OR GRAB?
By Celia Cohen
Not only has Richard Korn sued his own mother, he has designs on her eternal rest.
A dispute over a family cemetery plot has been dragged into a lawsuit Korn filed in the Court of Chancery against Sylvia Korn, his widowed mother who is 93, to try to get money from her and also make her sell her Hockessin condominium and give him half of the proceeds.
Imagine, because of the condo and the gravesite, a mother not knowing where she will be laying her head in this lifetime or the next one.
Maybe nothing about Richard Korn should come as a surprise anymore. He has been a one-man reality show, playing out in public because of his pursuit of political office.
Korn left New York, along with a political career that went nowhere and a messy personal bankruptcy there, for Delaware and another plunge into politics, only to come up short here, too. He ran as a Democrat for New Castle County executive in a party primary in 2004, state representative in 2006 and state auditor in 2010.
Now he is in the midst of double trouble. There is his arrest by the New Castle County police on charges of dealing in child pornography, although he declared once he made bail and left jail he would be exonerated, and there is this lawsuit against his mother.
Korn did not exactly get his full day in court on Thursday, but he did get the better part of an hour to argue for the dismissal of counterclaims brought by his mother. The proceeding was held in Georgetown before Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III in a courtroom that was as elegant and dignified as the lawsuit was not.
Richard Korn was there, represented by Rich Abbott, a lawyer who used to be a New Castle County Republican councilman, but Sylvia Korn was not, skipping the long drive downstate to leave her case up to David Ferry Jr., her attorney.
Both sides agree that Sylvia Korn added Richard Korn's name to an investment account and her condo in 2010, but not about the reason.
Richard Korn asserts she did it from her heart as a gift to benefit him financially, according to his court filing. His mother in her filing says he pressured her to do it, saying it would put him in a better position to manage her affairs, when he really wanted to grab her money.
She cut him off after she says he drained at least $486,000 from the investment account, which once had a balance of $1.04 million. He sued to get what he regards as his rightful share of the money and the condo.
Sylvia Korn also wants her cemetery lot back. In her court filing she says she gave him $4,000 to buy plots intended for her late husband, mother, brother and eventually herself. He made the purchase, but in his name, not hers.
She says her son has told her he will not let her be buried there.
In the courtroom Glasscock gave voice to what is plain about the lawsuit.
"This is an extremely sad and unpleasant matter," the vice chancellor said. "It is distressing to see this kind of situation arise between a mother and her son."
Glasscock suggested they try mediation. Otherwise, he would let both mother and son pursue their claims in court.
It looks like it will be a little while longer before Sylvia Korn can rest in peace.