Quiet recluse turns out to be rich
September 17, 2012
What started out as another case of a senior dying quietly in his Carson home turned out to be one of the strangest cases Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover has ever handled.Walter Samaszko Jr. was found dead in his Mountain Street home in late June after neighbors called sheriff’s deputies.Glover said they called because of the smell and because they hadn’t seen Samaszko for some time. According to the coroner, he had been dead at least a month.Glover said he gets cases like that periodically. He called in Aftermath to handle cleanup and called lawyer Dawn Ellerbrock to handle the probate and help find any living relatives.“I needed a favor from her because I didn’t think there was anything in it (the estate),” he said.Shortly after the cleaning crew called him back to the house. They found gold in boxes in the garage — lots of gold.“At that point, we took the house apart,” Glover said.That included a thorough search of the house itself, the crawl space beneath as well as a search of the entire yard using a metal detector.Glover said they found box after box of gold coins and bullion, all neatly wrapped in aluminum foil and plastic cases.“There were dos-pesos smaller than a dime, five-peso coins, $20 gold pieces, gold sovereigns, Austrian ducats, Krugerrands; you name it, (he) had it.”Based on just the weight of the gold alone, Glover said he estimates the value of the gold at about $7 million but that, since some of the coins appear to be collector’s items, it could go much higher. Some of the English Sovereigns, he said, date to the 1840s. He is hiring an expert to value the coins.How much gold? Enough that it took Glover two wheelbarrow loads to move it, enough that the boxes make a pile 2′ by 3′ by 21⁄2′ tall.Until the case is resolved, Glover said Loomis Armored Car is storing it for him in their vault.While Ellerbrock has done pro-bono work for him in the past, he said this time the estate can afford to pay for her services as well as appraisal, real estate and other costs that, sometimes, the city gets stuck with.Samaszko, 69, had lived in the house since the 1960s — with his mother until her death in 1992. Neighbors, he said, knew little about him other than that he was quiet and not a problem to deal with.Samaszko was “anti-government,” a recluse and a hoarder.“He never went to a doctor,” he said. “He was obsessed with getting diseases from shots.”There were a few conspiracy theory books in the home along with several guns, and supplies including dozens of cans of tuna and salmon among other things. Glover said Samaszko’s mother apparently started buying gold in the 1960s. Throughout the years, first she — then he — kept detailed records of what was purchased, when and how much was paid.In addition, he said Samaszko had stock accounts with a total of some $165,000 in them and another $12,000 in cash at the house.While this is a unique case, Glover said he’s sure Samaszko isn’t the only one in Carson City. He said there may be a number of other seniors living quietly in the capital, unknown to their neighbors but extremely wealthy.The apparent source of his and his mother’s wealth was that his father was a vice president of the J. Harris Pie Co., which sold out to what is now Mrs. Smith’s Pie Co. before he died in an industrial accident.Glover said on top of all that, Samaszko only has one relative to claim the wealth — a first cousin named Arlene who is a substitute teacher in San Rafael, Calif.“Our goal is to get the most money for the heir,” he said.That goal means dealing with the IRS, which Glover has said may want up to 75 percent of the total depending on whether Samaszko and his mother filed correct returns over the years. He said the taxman wants a minimum of $800,000.Glover said it’s the biggest probate case he’s handled in more than 20 years. But he said other than the IRS involvement, it’s a relatively simple case.“At least you don’t have 12 relatives fighting,” he said.To protect his office and the estate, Glover said the case is being handled by District Judge James Wilson.“We don’t want any problems,” he said. “I want to be able to tell IRS everything was court-approved.”He said he is on a tight schedule to get everything taken care of because federal law mandates that.“I need to have this figured out by the end of the year so we can start selling this stuff off,” he said.