Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning
LOUIS M. VARI, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF JODI A. COPPOLA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
CAROL COPPOLA, Defendant-Appellee.
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, of
Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 2017 CI 00027
John McNally III, John A. McNally, III, Co., L.P.A., for
Glenn Osborne, and, Atty. T. Scott Kamenitsa Jr, Friedman
& Rummel Co., L.P.A., for Defendant-Appellee.
A. D'Apolito, Gene Donofrio, Carol Ann Robb, Judges.
OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Appellant, Louis M. Vari, Executor of the Estate of Jodi A.
Coppola, appeals from the September 27, 2018 judgment of the
Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division,
finding Appellee, Carol A. Coppola, not guilty of concealing
assets under R.C. 2109.50. For the reasons stated, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Appellee's daughter, Jodi Coppola ("the
decedent") passed away in 2012 after battling cancer.
The decedent left behind her parents, Joe Coppola and
Appellee; her companion, Appellant; her children, Kate, Lily,
Carlina, and Patrick; her brother, Joe Coppola III; and
various aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.
Before her death, a public spaghetti dinner was held in the
decedent's honor. The fundraiser was a success, raising
around $25, 000. The decedent took the proceeds from the
dinner and placed the cash in a safety deposit box at a local
bank. Shortly thereafter, the decedent added Appellee's
name to the safety deposit box. The decedent gave the money
to Appellee and instructed her that the funds were to be held
for the benefit of the decedent's children. The decedent
also instructed Appellee that she did not want Appellant to
have access to the funds. The keys to the safety deposit box
were held by the decedent and Appellee only.
After the decedent's passing, Appellee used some of the
funds for the benefit of the decedent's four children in
accordance with her wishes. Appellee used some of the funds
on a variety of necessaries for the children, including:
first communion expenses; clothing; school supplies;
miscellaneous expenses; and a trip to Disney World.
According to Appellant, the cash in the safety deposit box
belonged to the decedent. Appellant posits that Appellee
should not have been entitled to use the funds as she has
done so over the last six years.
On May 22, 2018, Appellant filed a complaint for concealment
against Appellee. On June 14, 2018, Appellee filed an answer.
A bench trial was held on July 24, 2018.
On September 27, 2018, the probate court found Appellee not
guilty of concealing assets under R.C. 2109.50, determined
that the safety deposit contents in the amount of
approximately $25, 000 in cash did not belong to the decedent
at the time of her death, and imposed a constructive trust
over the $6, 000 remaining in the safety deposit box to be
divided equally into four new accounts for the decedent's
children and ...