Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scaife Daughter: Attorney Had Undue Influence

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scaife Daughter: Attorney Had Undue Influence

Article excerpt

Twice over four years, the attorney for the late publisher Richard Mellon Scaife unduly influenced the billionaire to revise estate documents to cut out daughter Jennie Scaife and to provide for the newspapers and foundations that the lawyer controlled, according to a court petition she filed Wednesday.

Ms. Scaife, 53, of Florida, received nothing following her father's 2014 death, as she was mentioned neither in his 2013 will, nor in a 2010 codicil - or alteration - to an earlier will. Those changes followed a 2008 will that left her family memorabilia, according to the amended petition she filed in Westmoreland County's Orphans Court Division.

The will changes benefited the Tribune-Review newspapers, Allegheny Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation, all of which were controlled in part by attorney H. Yale Gutnick, according to her petition. By the time the changes were completed, not just an estimated $1.4 billion fortune, but even the family knickknacks went to those beneficiaries.

The 2010 change "was all part of a carefully orchestrated plan by Gutnick to prohibit Scaife family members from having the ability to contest Richard Mellon Scaife's will," according to the petition.

The amended petition adds to allegations first made a year ago, and aims to bolster a case complicated by the 2010 codicil. If a judge tosses out a will because someone had undue influence, the assets are distributed according to any prior, legitimate will, or - in the absence of such a document - to the children. So if Ms. Scaife is to recover some portion of the estate, she must show that she was included in the last will that was free of undue influence, which she alleges was the 2008 document.

Ms. Scaife argued that during her father's fight with cancer, Mr. Gutnick persuaded him to leave nearly everything to the newspapers and foundations, which he led and counted as big legal clients. …

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