Jul. 8--A greedy sister and brother were each hit with life sentences Monday for the brutal 1996 murder of the woman's husband -- a successful Manhattan businessman who was slaughtered for a million-dollar life insurance payout.
Roslyn Pilmar, 61, and her brother Evan Wald, 45, were convicted in Manhattan Supreme Court in March after a nine-week trial for orchestrating and carrying out the fatal stabbing of Howard Pilmar in his midtown office on March 21, 1996.
Prosecutors argued that the cold-blooded siblings lured the wealthy victim to his E. 33rd St. office after business hours when they knew they'd be alone with him.
There, 40-year-old Howard Pilmar, who owned an office supply store and several coffee shops, was ambushed in the hallway and stabbed about 40 times.
Roslyn Pilmar, a dental hygienist with big financial problems despite her husband's money, desperately needed the $1.2 million insurance payout, prosecutors said.
She was deeply in debt after she was caught stealing nearly $200,000 from a former employer and had promised to pay it back. She also personally owed about $15,000 in state taxes for one of her husband's coffee shops that she managed.
Roslyn inherited Howard's entire estate, including multiple properties, in addition to the insurance check. Prosecutors said the couple had been fighting around the time of his death, and that Howard had seen a divorce lawyer.
The wicked wife "coldly and carefully orchestrated the savage killing of her husband," prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer argued at the sentencing. The pair "executed Howard Pilmar for his money" and "planned the murder as a team," creating a "trap for Howard, and he fell into it."
"Howard didn't stand a chance -- not against Roslyn Pilmar's greed and desperation, not against Evan's anger and hatred of him," she added.
Investigators -- and the victim's relatives -- had long suspected the siblings of the crime. In 2013 the case was reinvestigated by the Manhattan DA's office after witnesses were found with new information, and Pilmar and Ward were arrested in August 2017.
Howard's 90-year-old father Frank Pilmar said he was pleased with the maximum 25-years-to-life sentences his son's killers received, but is still haunted by the horrific way he died.
He told the judge that he "can't get sleep because I keep thinking about the terror and the fear that went through Howard's mind in those last seconds that he was slaughtered and butchered by those two ... "
Roslyn Pilmar did have at least one supporter in the courtroom -- her son Philip Pilmar, who was 10 when his father was killed. Now a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, Philip, who is estranged from his father's side of the family, defended his mother and said she didn't deserve to spend the rest of her life in prison.
He told Justice Gilbert Hong that the woman who raised him "is not the person portrayed in court." He said he "struggled for years" with the tragedy overshadowing his childhood, but "came to accept things and move on."
He also stood up for his uncle, whom he called a "kind person," before storming out of the courtroom after seeing his mother get the maximum sentence.
Roslyn Pilmar's lawyer Sanford Talkin vowed to "to vigorously pursue" an appeal. Wald's attorney Daniel Gotlin, who maintains his client's innocence, pointed to the past two decades of honest living as "ample proof" Wald is not in need of lifetime rehabilitation.
"My client led an exemplary life," Gotlin said after the sentencing. He said after Howard's death, when Wald was 21, he became a hardworking, married father of a disabled girl.
Hong did not find pleas for leniency compelling.
"The bottom line is this: Even in the realm of homicide, this was an exceptionally brutal and violent murder," he said.
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