Paul Novak has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife, Catherine, on December 13, 2008. The sentence was handed down on January 31.
Judge Frank LaBuda also denied a motion to have the verdict thrown out. Novak's attorney Gary Greenwald had argued that his client should receive a fair trial based on a technicality, because one of the doors in the court had been locked, or an officer of the court prevented people from entering the courtroom, during a portion of the proceedings, but LaBuda rejected that argument.
At the trial in September 2013, the star witness was Novak's girlfriend at the time of the murder, Michelle LaFrance, and she provided damming testimony about Novak's actions and his intent to kill his wife. Novak received $800,000 in proceeds from insurance policies, as well as custody of the couple's two children.
District Attorney Jim Farrell announced today that Paul Novak, 47, of Lewiston, F.L., was sentenced in Sullivan County Court to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the 2008 murder of his wife Catherine Novak.
Novak was convicted after an eight week jury trial by a jury on September 27, 2013, of: Murder in the 1st Degree, two counts of Murder in the 2nd Degree, Burglary in the 2nd Degree, Arson in the 3rd Degree, Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree and two counts of Insurance Fraud in the 2nd Degree, all felonies.
Farrell called Novak’s actions in killing his wife “deliberate, cruel, premeditated, methodical and planned”. Farrell described how Novak planned the killing and then executed his plan by creeping into Catherine’s home in the dead of night and murdering her and then burning her home to the ground in recommending that Judge Frank LaBuda sentence Novak to the maximum sentence allowed by law: life in prison without the possibility of parole and a consecutive aggregate term of 20 to 60 years in prison for the arson, larceny and insurance fraud convictions.
The court followed the District Attorney’s recommendation and also ordered Novak to pay over $780,000.00 in restitution to State Farm Insurance, AIG insurance and New York Life Insurance for the monies he illegally obtained after her murder.
Farrell described Catherine Novak as a “community leader, prior school board member at Sullivan West, Girl Scout leader, church leader, loving sister, daughter and mother.”
Farrell praised the work on the New York State Police who investigated this case and finally obtained justice for Catherine Novak, “The New York State Police worked very hard in this case to determine exactly what happened to Catherine Novak and their hard work has resulted in the truth about Catherine’s death being revealed, after 4 long years, and the deliberate and premeditated plan that her husband, Paul Novak, executed on the early morning of December 13, 2008.
I want to thank the State Police for all of their fine work in achieving justice for Catherine Novak and ensuring that Paul Novak was held responsible for his crimes. I also want to thank the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire, who also played an important role in the investigation and Steve Lungen, the prior Sullivan County District Attorney, for coming out of retirement and assisting in this prosecution as special counsel – his help, tireless effort and work, advice and counsel were invaluable in this successful prosecution.”