Citizen Staff Writer
The sister of a retired high-profile Tucson lawyer has joined a lawsuit accusing her brother and his family of mismanaging funds and abusing his power of attorney status.
Norma Salonic, 78, joined a lawsuit filed in Pima County Superior Court by the county’s public fiduciary against Jack J. Rappeport, 84; his wife, Ginger; their daughter, Annie Rappeport; and Rappeport’s daughter, Sharon Rappeport.
The public fiduciary accused him of abusing the trust placed in him by a friend’s widow, Cherie Van Dyke Adams.
Under Arizona law, it is the responsibility of the public fiduciary to protect the legal rights and financial interests of vulnerable adults and to administer the estates of deceased persons.
Rappeport obtained his law degree at Harvard University and served as the University of Arizona’s legal adviser in the 1970s. He also taught at the UA law school.
He has denied taking advantage of Adams as well as his sister.
Rappeport, in a written response to the court, said the public fiduciary forced his sister to join the lawsuit.
In a rambling response to Salonic’s complaint filed last week, Rappeport asked Judge Clark Munger to find that he “is a seriously ill, unable to walk, disabled vulnerable elderly adult in his 85th year, who is being exploited and harassed by actions initiated by the Pima County Public Fiduciary and which have provoked fraudulent actions to be taken against him and could possibly result in a wrongful death.”
“Jack J. Rappeport,” he wrote, “has fallen into a serious depression and is unable to concentrate.”
Salonic accused her brother of taking advantage of her after the deaths of her husband and son. The complaint also said Rappeport took over finances after the deaths of their parents and has never accounted for their assets to his sister.
Salonic accused Rappeport of mismanaging her interests in a Tucson apartment complex, her home and a lakeside cabin.
The complaint said Rappeport became “paranoid” when he began experiencing personal problems and he used foul language and was “verbally abusive and aggressive” when Salonic did not comply with his demands.
Until Salonic was contacted in April about the public fiduciary’s complaint against Rappeport and hired an attorney, Salonic said she didn’t know that she could hold her brother accountable for his actions, the complaint said.
In his reply, Rappeport said he consistently tried to help his sister through three family tragedies, without pay. He called Salonic’s allegations “outrageous lies.”
Rappeport denied taking advantage of her when her husband and son died.
He said Salonic’s memory is “defective” with “convenient” lapses.
Rappeport said he became “frustrated” by Salonic’s “continual complaining and lack of appreciation for a lifetime of caring for her.” Salonic “seems to be bitter and vindictive” toward her brother, he wrote.
“It is important to note that Respondent is not responsible for (Salonic’s) tragic losses,” he wrote. “It is time (Salonic) take responsibility for her own actions or inactions.”
Jack and Ginger Rappeport are asking Munger to delay a hearing set for Tuesday so they each can hire an attorney.
Rappeport previously was represented by a Tucson law firm, but the attorneys asked to be removed over “ethical” concerns. The court filing didn’t elaborate on those concerns.
Ginger Rappeport is asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit because she had no dealings with Adams. In papers filed last week, Ginger Rappeport said the lawsuit “has placed an undue hardship, with potential irreparable harm both physical and emotional on an absolutely innocent person, who is the primary caregiver to her spouse.”
Neither Rappeport nor Salonic could be reached for comment.