Judicial Referee and retired Judge, Gary Cassavechia, has imposed a March 21, 2017 deadline for the beneficiaries of the late Geraldine Webber to reach a settlement in a legal malpractice suit with Webber’s former attorney, Gary Holmes. Prior to Webber’s death, Holmes wrote a last will and trust which left most of Webber’s $2 million estate to former Portsmouth police sergeant, Aaron Goodwin. Goodwin was subsequently terminated from the Police Department after an independent panel determined that he had violated various sections of the city’s Code of Ethics and Police Duty Manual, by accepting the inheritance.
Cassavechia rejected the will, finding that Goodwin had exerted undue influence over Webber in convincing her to change the will to benefit him. Webber had been diagnosed with dementia years before revising her estate plan, which was prepared by Holmes, according to testimony by her long-time physician. In January 2016, the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Shriner’s Burn Center, two of the original beneficiaries, successfully petitioned the Probate Court to permit a legal malpractice claim to proceed against Holmes. Any funds obtained from the legal malpractice case would be distributed among the various original beneficiaries.