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July 24, 2010
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Court says Mack can't keep pension

A former Nevada pawn shop owner convicted of killing his wife and shooting the judge who was handling their divorce isn't entitled to his $500,000 retirement fund, a federal appeals court has ruled.

In a ruling issued Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered Darren Mack's mother, Joan, to turn over her son's pension fund to a lower court for distribution to the administrator of his slain wife's estate.

Joan Mack is owner of Palace Jewelry & Loan, and trustee of the Reno pawn shop's 401(k) profit sharing and retirement plan.

Darren Mack pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison for killing his wife, Charla, in Reno and shooting and wounding Washoe Family Court Judge Chuck Weller in 2006.

Court records show the Macks met with Weller in January 2006 to discuss a possible settlement. A tentative agreement disintegrated four months later, but Weller, based on the couple's earlier verbal acceptance of deal, ordered the settlement to be entered.

On June 12, 2006, Charla Mack was stabbed to death at her Reno townhouse. Hours later, Weller was shot through a courthouse window while sitting in his chambers. The judge survived.

Final divorce papers were never signed. In 2007, another judge finalized the settlement retroactively and ordered Mack to pay $480,000 in cash and $500,000 over a period of five years.

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld the divorce ruling in March 2009.

Mack filed several appeals on various grounds in state and federal courts, and at one point threatened to sue his mother, as trustee of the retirement account, if she transferred his funds to Charla's estate, court documents show.

Joan Mack then filed suit in U.S. District Court, asking, among other things, that Darren Mack and Charla's estate be required to "settle between themselves" who is entitled to the retirement money and that she be "discharged" from any further liability.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 24, 2010 02:11AM Published Jul 24, 2010 02:11AM Copyright 2010 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.