Slain doctor's family files two suits against suspect

The family of a Newport Beach doctor killed in January is accusing the suspected gunman of defrauding them in the weeks after the deadly shooting.

They have filed two lawsuits in the span of a week against Stanwood Elkus the Lake Elsinore man accused of killing urologist Dr. Ronald Gilbert on Jan. 28.

In addition to a wrongful death claim, the family accused Elkus of giving away real estate he owns in order to shield it from the Gilberts if they win damages.

Thursday, an Orange County Superior Court judge ordered a temporary stop to the transactions.

Elkus, 75, allegedly shot Gilbert, 52, multiple times in the torso in an examination room at a Hoag Hospital-affiliated medical complex on Superior Avenue.

The family's wrongful death claim, filed March 28, describes the scene, saying a nurse took Elkus' vital signs and left the room before Gilbert entered.

When Gilbert's partner entered the room, Elkus said he had shot the doctor and that he was insane, according to the suit.

The suspect stayed in the exam room where police arrested him and paramedics pronounced Gilbert dead, authorities said.

Elkus has been held without bail since his arrest and pleaded not guilty last month to a murder charge with a sentencing enhancement for lying in wait.

But from behind bars, Elkus allegedly began ditching residential properties he owns in Orange and Riverside counties, lawyers for the Gilbert family said in a suit filed Tuesday.

On Feb. 8, Elkus fraudulently gave away seven properties in Huntington Beach, Lake Forest, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar to a Los Angeles couple to avoid their inclusion in civil damages assessed against him, lawyers said.

Along with blocking the transfer of an eighth property in Lake Forest, the Gilberts' attorney Edward Susolik also asked the court to void the previous seven deals.

Attempts to reach the Los Angeles couple were unsuccessful. Their relationship to Elkus is unclear.

"Defendant Elkus has committed a massive fraud upon the Gilbert family only 11 days after he murdered Dr. Gilbert," Susolik said in a written statement. "This fraudulent action was clearly done with the intention of further harming the Gilbert family, who have already suffered the loss of their loving husband and father."

Gilbert's wife of 23 years, Elizabeth Gilbert, and his two sons are represented by Susolik of the Orange County-based Callahan & Blaine litigation firm.

Elkus requested a public defender in his criminal trial. He has yet to procure an attorney to represent him in the civil case, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

"I can't afford a lawyer," Elkus told a judge before his arraignment.

One of his public defenders, Jennifer Nicolalde, declined to comment on the civil action.

Elkus is due in civil court April 23 where a judge will consider making the restraining order permanent.

— Lauren Williams contributed to this report

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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