Former Toronto society ‘Glitter Girl’ charged with fraud in Florida

The Globe and Mail

A former Toronto “Glitter Girl” whose name appeared regularly in Toronto’s social pages detailing the balls, black-tie galas and fundraisers of high society is now facing charges that she defrauded an elderly Florida friend.

Police allege 66-year-old Palm Beach resident Nancy Tsai used the trust account of the 92-year-old Alzheimer’s patient to pay for an ocean-front condo, luxury cars and chartered jet flights.

Born in Barrie, Ont., she was known as Nancy Paul when she started the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in 1986 and became a socialite legend on the fund-raising circuit. In her 1993 book, The Glitter Girls, The Globe and Mail society writer Rosemary Sexton chronicles the extravagant and intensely competitive world of Toronto high society women.

Vincent and Nancy Paul (later Nancy Tsai) in Toronto, December 19, 1984. Edward Regan/The Globe and Mail Originally published January 1, 1985.

Ms. Tsai has been living in Palm Beach following her marriage and 2006 divorce from the late Wall Street fund manager Gerald Tsai.

According to records at the Palm Beach courthouse, on Wednesday Ms. Tsai was charged with two felonies: one count of exploitation of an elderly person and one count of grand theft from a person over 65.

She was released on $30,000 (U.S.) bonds and a trial has been set for Oct. 14.

The allegations against her, which have been not been tested in court, are outlined in a 13-page probable cause affidavit filed by a Palm Beach Police Department detective. Her lawyer, Joseph Atterbury, didn’t immediately answer an emailed request for comment.

The alleged victim is Helga Marston, a World War Two refugee from Romania whose husband, the investment banker Hunter Marston, died a decade ago.

The Marstons had retired to Palm Beach and Ms. Tsai told police that she has known Ms. Marston for 40 years.

According to the affidavit by Detective Daniel Wilkinson, which was filed in court, the police began the investigation four months ago.

That was when financial regulators raised concerns about Dennis Melchior, a UBS Financial Services broker who worked for Ms. Marston and was also Ms. Tsai’s boyfriend.

According to the affidavit, Ms. Marston opened a UBS trust account in 2011 and granted her long-time friend power of attorney, later naming Ms. Tsai as a trustee of the account.

“Although Tsai is not a named beneficiary of the Trust, she had complete control over Marston’s finances and had the ability to distribute the Trust’s assets at her discretion,” the court document said.

The affidavit also notes that Mr. Melchior and Ms. Tsai “were in a romantic relationship.”

Ms. Marston suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and was admitted to the Lourdes Noreen McKeen assisted living facility in West Palm Beach in February 2013. Meanwhile, between January 2012 and April 2013, Ms. Tsai is alleged to have withdrawn large sums from Ms. Marston’s trust account to buy a $2.3-million penthouse apartment on the Palm Beach’s waterfront.

View a property listing in the same building of another penthouse that just sold for $2.8 million

Google Streetview image of 340 South Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach

The affidavit says UBS managers refused to let Ms. Tsai put her name on the sales deed in April of last year.

The previous month, a doctor had found that Ms. Marston had “zero” mental capacity.

To complete the transaction, Ms. Marston had to initialize each page of the sale agreement. According to a secretary who witnessed the April 16 signing, “Nancy Tsai, who was also present, assisted her by whispering the meaning of each page to Marston,” the affidavit said.

Clip from April 22, 2014 police report


Ms. Tsai is also alleged to have used money from the trust to purchase a $104,000 four-door Mercedes S550 and a $170,000 two-door Bentley Continental GT V8 coupe, which were registered with her as the sole owner. She also used the trust to lease a Mercedes E350S4 for four years, the affidavit said.

The document says Ms. Tsai spent $28,000 from the trust to charter a round-trip private jet that took her from West Palm Beach to Toronto and back on Feb. 7, 2013.

Ms. Tsai is also alleged to have used Ms. Marston’s American Express card to pay for several Delta Airlines flights between West Palm Beach and New York, the affidavit said.

The police document said the Amex card was also used pay for a total of $18,000 in restaurant meals, including a $7,762 bill at at Café L’Europe, which boasts of being a place for “movers and shakers,” a $3,726 meal at the French bistro Chez Jean Pierre, a $2,418 meal at the Palm Beach Grill and a $1,102 bill from Flager Steakhouse.

Clip from April 22, 2014 police report


The detective also listed suspicious purchases of furniture, lingerie, limousine service and an invoice from the Bloomingdales department store.

The affidavit further alleges that Ms. Marston amended her 2011 will in May 2013 to make Ms. Tsai and her daughter, Sarah, the beneficiaries of the elderly woman’s properties.

The affidavit that two months before the will was changed, a doctor had found that Ms. Marston had no mental capacity.

The assets in the will included the Palm Beach penthouse and the luxury cars but also a New York Upper East Side condo at 888 Park Avenue and several bank accounts.

Download the arrest report

Follow on Twitter: @TuThanhHa

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