Published in The New York Times, January 4, 1915
FIGHT FOR ESTATE OF GREEK FLORIST
Decendant’s Brother Seeks to Have
Hellenic Consul General Ousted as Administrator
CLAIMS A HALF INTEREST
Contest Over Bank Book Thanasules Turned Over to Friend
When Entering Army for Balkan War.
Persistent efforts to have Demetrius N. Botassis, Greek Consul General in this city removed as administrator of the estate of Antonios A. Thanasules, a Greek florist of this city, who died from wounds received in the Balkan war, have come to public notice by Surrogate Fowler’s dismissal on Saturday of the application of George A. Thanasules, brother of the decedent, for a rehearing of the case. James A. Allen of 35 Wall Street, who was elected a Judge of the City Court in the Fall and takes his place on the bench today, has been attorney for G. A. Thanasules throughout the litigation.
The affidavits on record with the Surrogate show that the brothers had prospered here and that Antonios, who had not seen his native land for fifteen years, returned there in the Spring of 1912. He had enjoyed himself in his native town of Paresta, and was on his way back to this country when the Balkan war broke out. At the city of Missolongi he was pressed into service by the Greek Army officials and sent to the front.
The affidavits then read that he gave to Constantinos V. Kangaris, a friend who was also returning to America, a bank book, a pistol, $75 in cash, jewelry, and other personal property, with instructions to turn them over to Mrs. Panagou Thanasules, his mother. Kangaris was not sent to the front because of physical incapacity. An affidavit by the latter reads that he turned the property over to the aged Mrs. Thanasules, who sent the bank book to her son in America.
Then Mrs. Aglaica Thanasules, widow of the decedent, whose brother is a lawyer in Greece, brought charges against her mother-in-law and other members of her husband’s family alleging the property had been given her by her husband, and that they had broken into a trunk where she had placed it. All went to court in Paresia and two uncles, Treatafilos P. and John A. Thanasules, were discharged, but the mother of decedent was declared guilty of having the property in her possession and refusing to give it up. This is all contained in the affidavit of Kangaris, who says that he attended the trial and testified.
Decedent’s widow then interested the Greek Government and the Consul General here opposed the first application of George A. Thanasules, who in February, 1913, asked for letters of administration for the estate of his brother for the purpose of “winding up” its affairs, in which he held a half interest as a partner. On March 14, 1913, in discovery proceedings Thanasules admitted that he held the bank book of his deceased brother, and refused to give it up. He explained that it was the custom among the Greeks in this country to turn all funds over to the older brother, that he had followed this custom, and the money represented his one-half interest. Then, too, it was necessary, he said, for the settling of the estate that all funds be in his hands. The widow, however, contended, through the Consul General here, that her brother-in-law had no interest in her husband’s estate.
On March 25, 1913, Surrogate Fowler dismissed the brother’s application and issued letters to the Greek Consul General. On July 19, 1913, the Consul General started an action in conversion in the Supreme Court against Thanasules to recover the bank book and whatever other property he might have in his possession belonging to the estate of his brother. The case is now on the calendar ready for trial. On Aug. 5, 1914, the brother asked to have the letters issued to the Consul General revoked, alleging that he had never been duly notified of the latter’s appointment as administrator. Surrogate Fowler denied this application. In November permission was asked of the Surrogate to hear an appeal from his former decision. This also was denied. At Judge-elect Allen’s office it was said yesterday that the case may go to the Appellate Division.
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