Leah Remini attached herself to her dying grandmother like a vulture, with one big difference: Vultures wait until their victim is dead before swooping in. Leah picked the old woman’s bones clean while she was still clinging to life.
“I was very naive I have to say,” George Remini later admitted about the heart-wrenching way his daughter plundered his 93-year-old mother’s valuables as she lay dying. “I was very naive.”
George Remini recounted how Leah—then wealthy and living in a Hollywood mansion—orchestrated the looting of his mother’s estate as Mary Remini struggled for life in her modest two-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan’s Little Italy in the spring of 2006.
Piecing the story together from caregivers and friends and other family members, George reconstructed how Leah had his mother’s home emptied of cash, valuables and heirlooms while the elder Remini lay on her death bed.
“My mother did not believe in banks,” George Remini said of his mother, who had immigrated to the United States from her native Italy. “She had some money in the bank, [but] a lot of money in the house.”
He said that before his mother fell ill, she handwrote her wishes dividing her assets and belongings between George and his two daughters. But when Leah heard his mother was declining, she sent her older sister, Nicole, to New York City. That’s when he discovered what Leah was really doing.
Nicole called George when she arrived in New York. “She said, ‘Dad, I’ve come to see grandma.’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s nice of you. Where’s your sister [Leah]?’” Nicole replied, “‘Oh, she doesn’t want to come.’”
He wondered why Leah wouldn’t come to see her grandmother one last time. She had always said she wanted to do a documentary on his mother, detailing how she came to the U.S. and the events of her life. And now, he was thinking, “You don’t even want to look at her?”
George and Nicole arranged to meet at his mother’s apartment and the two even made plans to have lunch together. But, when George arrived, he was in for a surprise.
When he got to his mother’s room, “Nicole got up and left.” When George asked, “Where are you going?” she said, “I’m going next door.”
“For what? I thought we were going to lunch.”
“Oh,” she said, “we’ve got a couple of things we have to do.”
When Nicole left, the two caregivers attending George’s mother told him Nicole had rifled through the dressers and drawers in the apartment, collecting all the cash, valuables, jewelry and heirlooms—even the old family photographs. “Nicole went through everything like with a vacuum cleaner,” George Remini said.
Leah, he said, ignored his mother’s wishes. “She has all my pictures as a child growing up, my family growing up, my aunts, my uncles. She has everything.” Nicole and Leah found his mother’s information, he said, and they “got the bank accounts, they got her insurance money, everything.”
He only wanted “whatever belongs to me rightfully,” but Leah got there first. “She has my mother’s wedding ring, which I would like back.”
— REMINI COUSIN
Even with all the valuables sucked out of the apartment, Leah was not finished picking at the bones of her grandmother, who died in June of 2006. A cousin on the East Coast said relatives were shocked to find out their grandmother was gone and her apartment stripped bare.
“Everything was empty. Gone,” the angry cousin said. “She took our grandmother’s apartment in New York [and] lied to her family where her body was after she died….”
That cousin swore he would never talk to Leah Remini again after what she did. “This is our grandmother,” he added.
Heaping insult on injury, Leah did not even attend her grandmother’s funeral.
“When my father died, Leah didn’t show up. And when my mother died, Leah didn’t show up,” George Remini lamented. “And she was always, ‘Oh, my grandmother, my grandmother, my grandmother.’
“So, she’s just a phony.”