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Black Judge Found Dead In Hudson River Did Not Include Husband In Her ‘Will’

The New York City judge whose body was found floating in the Hudson River last month unwittingly cut her husband out of her estate due to an outdated will.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was the first black woman to be appointed to New York’s highest court, signed her will in December of 2004, and did not update it again before her death, reported the New York Post.

As a result, her widower, Reverend Gregory Jacobs, who she married in June 2016 will inherit none of her belongings.

The will leaves her entire estate to her mother and siblings, and was written during a contentious split from her third husband, Hector Nova.

She wanted to ensure that he would not inherit her money if she suddenly died.

The will reads, ‘I am presently married to, but in the midst of divorce proceedings with, Hector Nova.’

Abdus-Salaam met Nova when she hired him to do renovations on her Harlem townhouse. She filed for divorce in 2003, but the two battled in court for two years before it was finalized.

The judge’s largest asset was the brownstone on West 131st Street, which court papers valued at $2million. She also had $50,000 in ‘personal belongings,’ which will have to be divided up.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam (left) unwittingly cut her husband, Referend Gregory Jacobs

The estate lawyer, Lawrence Blumberg, is asking for a rush approval of the will.

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‘There are assets that need immediate attention, including the brownstone in which the decedent resided, and bills to be paid,’ he wrote.

Abdus-Salaam’s final will gives 25 percent of her assets to her mother, who died in 2012. The rest will be equally divided to her five brothers and sisters, according to a copy.

‘I’m surprised she doesn’t have an updated will,’ a close friend of the late 65-year-old’s  told the Post. ‘I’m happy to know that they are the beneficiaries.’

The friend also said that the judge was very ‘thoughtful and helpful’ toward the family.

Police initially believed that Salaam committed suicide, but NYPD opened an investigation after the fact, determining that her death was ‘suspicious’.

Though the investigation was closed early in May, the Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to determine a cause of death.

Her body was retrieved fully clothed a day after her husband reported her missing by the NYPD harbor unit.

Witnesses noticed Abdus-Salaam’s body floating in the water near 132nd Street and Hudson Parkway in Manhattan at around 1.45pm and called 911, police said.

Abdus-Salaam was noted for being the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s Court of Appeals when she was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

Cuomo issued a statement after her death, memorializing her as a ‘trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all’.

Abdus-Salaam worked as an attorney before she began her career as a judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1992.

She joined the Supreme Court of New York County in 1993 before she was appointed to the highest court 20 years later, where she served until her death.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be ‘missed deeply.’

 

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Written by PH

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