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Widow, trustees reach settlement over estate of NFL owner

February 7, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ The legal battle between Hugh Culverhouse’s angry widow and the men he left in charge of his millions is over, but not before it revealed sordid details of the football team owner’s philandering ways.

``I’m terribly glad that it’s over,″ Joy Culverhouse told reporters Thursday after signing the agreement, which gives the trustees $3 million each to remove themselves from overseeing the $380 million estate.

The agreement, which pays Mrs. Culverhouse $34 million, came days after a judge began hearing one of her lawsuits, which made Culverhouse’s extramarital affairs public.

Culverhouse, a tax lawyer who had owned the losing but profitable Tampa Bay Buccaneers, died of lung cancer in 1994 at age 75.

In the months leading up to the hearing, steamy depositions revealed three affairs Culverhouse had _ all of which Mrs. Culverhouse said she had known nothing about.

``I’d like to pull him out of the grave and shoot him with every bullet I could get,″ Mrs. Culverhouse, 76, told The Tampa Tribune.

She was further enraged to find out that the trustees paid $50,000 to one of the women. Mrs. Culverhouse said she was ``mad as hell″ that ``my money went for all these little escapades.″

Mrs. Culverhouse last year filed three lawsuits, all of which were settled with Thursday’s agreement.

The first accused lawyers Jack Donlan, Fred Cone and Steve Story of mishandling the trust and failing to pay her the income she should have received. A judge had begun hearing that case Monday.

The trustees said they did their best to manage a complicated estate.

The second suit accused Cone of tricking Mrs. Culverhouse into signing an agreement that gave her husband control of the couple’s money in exchange for $5 million and a condominium.

Mrs. Culverhouse said her husband and Cone advised her to sign it for tax reasons and because Culverhouse was on the brink of bankruptcy. A few months later, statements showed the worth of Culverhouse’s holdings had grown by $36.7 million.

She contended her husband tricked her into signing the agreement because he planned to divorce her and remarry. Culverhouse’s receptionist, Charlton Ford, said in court depositions that he had proposed to her.

The third lawsuit accused Story of aiding Culverhouse in defrauding her.

In addition to getting the $34 million payment, Mrs. Culverhouse has the right to name her own trustees under the settlement. Story will stay on as the trust manager.

The agreement also arranges for $10 million to be divided among 40 area charities that Mrs. Culverhouse will choose.

``I’m now able to give to the charities what I want, and I don’t have to get dead to give it,″ she said.

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