As my grandmother, Beverley Schottenstein, and I watched the trial that would decide the fate of her rightful fortune on Zoom in Florida, she couldn’t stop the tears—angry tears. For her, this ordeal was not solely about the undeniable fact that two of her own grandsons robbed her of millions. It was also about the hideous lies that the two grandsons told about her on the stand. And adding insult to injury, the boys’ father Bobby, her own son and my uncle, along with their mother Caroline distorted the narrative to justify their own reprehensible actions.
My 94-year-old grandmother, whom I call Nanny, also testified on Zoom from the sanctity of her home—a residence directly one floor above Bobby and Caroline’s own condo. When the arbitrators handed down the verdict, it became a breaking news sensation in countless media outlets on and offline. The full story became the subject of a major feature in Bloomberg breaking this week. Nanny won her restitution, but the most satisfying aspect of the verdict was that it determined that the grandsons were guilty of elder abuse. The decision was evidence that elder abuse can happen at any time to anyone, even to those seemingly insulated by wealth and prestige.
Did the extended Schottenstein family rejoice when the verdict was read? Those who deeply adore Nanny and were behind her all the way celebrated. Her live-in caretaker, Dawn, who had also testified, was cheering in the background. I called my cousin Alexis, who was likewise overjoyed. Nanny called my dad, his sister Randee, and his brother, my Uncle Gary. They were all exuberant and incredibly relieved for her.
At the same time, the verdict evoked only further torment by her son Bobby, her grandsons Evan and Avi, the ones found liable for their crimes, and Bobby’s wife Caroline who consistently bad-mouthed my grandmother by falsely claiming that she suffered from memory loss. Nanny was even criticized by some distant cousins who had no direct stake in the outcome but feared such a public forum would erode our family’s reputation and bring the family shame.
I was just coming home from a two-month stay in Florida when I got the call from my grandmother that the verdict was in and she had won her case. My plane had just landed, and I was at the LaGuardia airport baggage claim. Nanny was ecstatic that it was finally over and that justice prevailed.
Feb 15, 2021 – by Cathy Schottenstein Pattap
After the verdict was made public on Friday Feb. 5, everything was quiet downstairs in the condo where Caroline, Bobby, and Evan were staying. Stories about the case began to come out in the press on Monday, Feb. 8. Then on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 10 I received a phone call from a second cousin whom I hardly know. He had contacted me a year ago during the trial to encourage me to convince my grandmother to drop her case against Evan and Avi. This time he called to tell me how embarrassed “all the Schottensteins” were about the news coverage and to say that my grandmother should not “force Evan to pay” the $9 million he owed her. He said Evan would have to file for bankruptcy and that the trial would make the entire family appear dysfunctional. It did not surprise me when my second cousin told me that Evan actually blamed me for his situation because I took the stand against him during the trial. I told him the only victim in this situation was my grandmother, not Evan.
At 8AM that same day, Wednesday Feb. 10, my grandmother woke up, walked outside to her wraparound terrace, and looked out toward the bright sunlight beaming off the Atlantic Ocean. Perched on the balcony, she saw Evan and his mom Caroline on the beach. She watched Caroline get herself a coconut, sip the sweet coconut water, and then return to the heated pool to practice her backstroke. Evan sat nearby, basking in the rays. To any casual observer, it appeared that the two had not one care in the world. “She’s enjoying her tropical vacation,” my grandma said to me over the phone, her voice dripping with righteous indignation and sarcasm. “Don’t you know? Her conscience is clear. They think they did nothing wrong.”
Later that afternoon, Evan called my dad and told him he was innocent and that the verdict was unfair. He pleaded with my dad to persuade my grandmother to forgive him of the $9 million. He defended all of his actions and insisted that he was a “wonderful broker” who “made her a lot of money.”
The next day my Uncle Bobby called my dad, hysterical. He said my dad needed to intervene or Evan would end up bankrupt and “like a homeless person living alone on the street.” After this conversation, my dad told me that Bobby’s family was more manipulative than ever, always blaming everyone but themselves.
Evan does not have the $9 million to pay my grandmother. He owes at least a million dollars more on top of that in legal fees. He can cover some of his obligations but there is another twist: many years ago, he transferred the title of my grandmother’s multi-million-dollar condo on the Upper West Side to his name and lives there with his older brother. The good news is that fresh off this triumphant end to the trial, Nanny’s lawyer is looking to get that condo back. And not just that one, but another condo his younger brother and co-conspirator Avi stole from her, which is a few blocks away.
Nanny will never cave to Evan and Avi’s requests from this point forward. She wants every penny he owes her plus her condos back. She wants criminal charges filed. She is finished with placating to those who do not respect her. She will no longer allow herself to be a victim of elder abuse.
This is my first blog. Thank you for joining me on this journey in search of justice and to expose the scourge of elder abuse—not just in my family. Please stay tuned for more.