A New York socialite who was found dead at the bottom of a trash chute at her luxury Manhattan apartment in 2018 was reportedly ‘buried in debt’ at the time of her mysterious death.
Lara Prychodko, 48, was found dead on July 18, 2018, at her $6,500-per-month apartment at Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square after falling 27 floors.
Police investigating her death at the time concluded that she drunkenly fell into the chute by accident. However, famed pathologist Michael Baden later ruled in a private autopsy that the mother-of-one may have been strangled to death before being place in the garbage chute.
Nearly two years on, as the mystery surrounding her death continues to persist, her lawyers have filed a lawsuit against her estranged husband David Schlachet that has revealed Prychodko was virtually penniless at the time of her death – and hadn’t been employed for five years.
Lara Prychodko (in 2010), 48, was found dead on July 18, 2018, at her $6,500-per-month apartment at Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square after falling 27 floors
Police investigating her death at the time concluded that she drunkenly fell into the chute (above) by accident. However, famed pathologist Michael Baden later ruled the mother-of-one may have been strangled to death before being place in the garbage chute
Seeking $321,629 plus interest from Schlachet, the lawyers, who also represented Prychodko in her divorce against him, claim he pocketed all of the couple’s assets in July 2018 but hasn’t taken any action to write off their client’s debts.
The only money Prychodko had to her name at the time of her death was in her individual retirement account (IRA) which would – and should – have gone towards paying off her creditors, the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court says.
However, Prychodko’s attorneys say construction executive Schlachet illegally transferred the money to their son’s beneficiary account, of which he administers.
‘As a result of the IRA transfer, Ms. Prychodko’s estate has no meaningful assets to distribute to her creditors, and to date no distribution has been made,’ according to court documents observed by the NY Post.
The suit further claims that Schlachet moved the money because he knew his wife owed ‘substantial attorneys’ fees’ and wanted to ‘hinder, delay or defraud’ her legal team.
Prychodko was laid off from her job at WebMD in 2013 and had ‘no meaningful income’ other than $4,375-a-month Schlachet had been ordered to pay her as part of their divorce, the court documents claim.
Just five months before her death, a judge also ordered Schlachet to pay Prychodko $30,000 to help cover her legal fees.
The rulings came as part of a contentious divorce, in which Prychodko had lost custody of her 12-year-old son, Talin. She was said to be having a several years-long affair with former WebMD CEO Wayne Gattinella at the time.
Seeking $321,629 plus interest from Schlachet (right), the lawyers, who also represented Prychodko in her divorce against him, claim he pocketed all of the couple’s assets in July 2018 but hasn’t taken any action to write off their client’s debts
The only money Prychodko had to her name at the time of her death was in her individual retirement account (IRA) which would – and should – have gone towards paying off her creditors, the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court says
Zeckendorf Towers where Prychodko died in July 2018 is pictured above
In the months leading up to her death, Gattinella who is now the president and CEO of tech company, DoubleVerify Inc, reportedly signed the Zeckendorf Towers lease with Prychodko in January 2018.
According to the Post, the pair had been dating since 2009 and Prychodko was putting pressure on Gattinella to leave his wife of 40 years Valerie.
In an email from May 2018 that was obtained by the newspaper, Prychodko wrote to the millionaire: ‘I just woke up missing my beautiful amazing son whom I’ve lost because of my love of you.’
She also wrote to the father-of-four: ‘You said you would take care of private school. But you are not. My child deserves the same privilege yours do.’
Eventually, Gattinella’s wife, Valerie, learned of their alleged relationship when she found a charge for a gym membership at Equinox on her husband’s credit card statement.
Prychodko’s friend, Amanda Armstrong, told the Post that when Valerie found out about the affair ‘she hit the roof’.
But Gattinella, who met Prychodko in 2002 while she worked as an online publisher for WedMD, started to be ‘very rude’ to Prychodko after his wife found the membership.
‘Lara was sick of being the mistress. That’s what she had been for many years,’ Armstrong said.
Not long after Prychodko died, Gattinella’s wife filed for divorce. It’s unclear if the alleged affair between Gattinella and Prychodko led to their split.
She was said to be having a several years-long affair with former WebMD CEO Wayne Gattinella (above) at the time
Prychodko was laid off from her job at WebMD in 2013 and had ‘no meaningful income’ other than $4,375-a-month Schlachet had been ordered to pay her as part of their divorce, the court documents claim
Gattinella owned a $4.5million property in Greenwich, Connecticut, that was purchased in 1999. The millionaire also owned a vacation property in East Hampton that’s worth more than $2million. He also owned two condos in Manhattan both worth $2million each.
During their split, Valerie held onto the couple’s 2019 Porsche Macan and Gattinella hung onto a 1997 Porsche and their Manhattan properties. Valerie currently has the East Hampton property.
Gattinella was named CEO of WedMD in 2005. He resigned from the company in 2012 and that same year he joined DoubleVerify as their CEO and president.
Gattinella was questioned by police after Prychodko died, but he was never named as a suspect in her death.
He told the Post in an email that Prychodko was a ‘former colleague and friend’.
At the time of Prychodko’s death, investigators concluded that it came as the result of a drunken accident.
Residents of the building told DailyMail.com at the time that Prychodko ‘had a drinking problem’ and would often ‘come home drunk’.
But in February this year, the famed pathologist who controversially concluded that pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy showed signs of murder claimed in bombshell new findings that Prychodko’s death was not a tragic accident.
New York City’s former chief medical examiner Dr Michael Baden claimed that the mother-of-one may not have plunged to her death accidentally, and her body showed signs of strangulation.
In a letter to Prychodko’s family, Baden concluded that she ‘may have died because of homicidal ligature strangulation and was then placed in the garbage chute’.
Baden was recruited by Lara’s family after her father Nicholas Prychodko refused to accept the results from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, who closed the case ‘with no resolution’ just two months after her death.
Pathologist Michael Baden, who claimed Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, believes that Prychodko may have been strangled before she was put into the trash chute where she was found
Lara Prychodko with her father Nicholas Prychodko who believes that she was murdered
Investigators said that Prychodko was last seen alive on video surveillance around 4.20pm, apparently intoxicated and stumbling around the 27th floor of the Zeckendorf Towers where she lived.
She was found ‘crushed from multiple angles’ around 30 minutes later by the building’s maintenance worker.
The city’s Chief Medical Examiner ruled her cause of death as ‘undetermined’ but said that it did not involve foul play.
Her father has long maintained that his daughter was murdered and for a period moved from his home in Toronto to New York to press for a further probe into her death.
Baden offered to investigate the case pro-bono for the family after being approached by Nicholas.
According to the New York Post, he reviewed autopsy notes, X-rays, lab tests and crime scene photos before sending his findings to the family in a letter on July 15, 2019, just less than a year after the death.
His findings concluded that strangulation may have been the reason why there was little bleeding from Prychodko body when she went down the chute and was crushed.
Baden was also concerned about the woman being topless in the crime scene photo.
‘One of the first things he said was that her blouse was off,’ Nicholas told the Post.
‘He felt that was unusual and a potential indication of a struggle before she died.’
David Schlachet with his son Talin Schlachet in 2017 – David won custody over Talin
Nicholas has doggedly argued that the death was murder because there was a lack of video footage from the hallway outside Prychodko’s apartment where the chute was located.
The only video footage shows Lara entering the elevator, apparently drunk, at 4.10pm.
A neighbor on the 27th floor claimed that she returned to her own apartment around 4.20pm but emerged 10 minutes later when she heard a noise in the hallway.
She told police then that she spotted a purse by the trash compactor entrance.
This purse belonged to Prychodko.
‘After completing a thorough investigation which included interviewing multiple individuals and viewing video, there is no criminality suspected at this time, and it is believed to be an accident,’ NYPD Lt John Grimpel said in 2018 after the investigation concluded.
Prychodko’s ex, construction executive Schlachet, was the co-founder of Taocon Inc, a construction company in New York, which owed more than $3.4million to creditors and had assets of only $550,844, according to documents filed in federal court in 2016.
The company filed for bankruptcy in 2016, the same year that he filed for divorce from Prychodko.
Schlachet has never been named a suspect in his wife’s death.
The NYPD repeated earlier this year that they had ‘determined’ no criminal activity was involved in Prychodko’s death.