Prosecutor: Murder suspect forged victim’s will, attempted to flee country

The Central Islip woman indicted last week in the Aquebogue murder of Lee Pedersen was arrested in December for forging his will, a prosecutor said at her arraignment Monday.

Police arrested Donatila O’Mahony, 41, on grand larceny and forgery charges at John F. Kennedy Airport on Dec. 28, 2020, where they found her with her daughter and a pair of one-way tickets to El Salvador, said Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Frank Schroeder. He said her house in Central Islip had been “packed” and she had also recently changed the license plates on her car to Texas plates.

Ms. O’Mahony has been held in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside since her December arrest and on Monday, as she was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge, she was denied bail by Judge Anthony Senft, who called her a “significant flight risk.”

Prosecutors described Ms. O’Mahony, who pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday, as an “acquaintance” of Mr. Pedersen, who they said was found dead in his Pine Avenue home on March 9, 2020, the victim of a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Mr. Schroeder said investigators noticed that following Mr. Pedersen’s death, Ms. O’Mahony “became obsessed” with finding his will, which he said police had in their possession. Mr. Schroeder said Ms. O’Mahony, unaware that police already had a copy of a will bequeathing Mr. Pedersen’s possessions to a different “close friend,” later produced her own version.

“This will was a forgery,” Mr. Schroeder said of the document Ms. O’Mahony produced. “In this forged will, the defendant made herself the executor of the will and bequeathed the Aquebogue house to herself, disinheriting Mr. Pedersen’s close friend.”

After hearing the evidence in the case, a Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted Ms. O’Mahony on the murder charge last week, Mr. Schroeder said.

Appearing virtually from jail, Ms. O’Mahony, a citizen of El Salvador, pleaded with Judge Senft to grant her bail so she can take care of her 6-year-old daughter, who she said is currently being watched by her mother. Ms. O’Mahony said her daughter’s father died four years ago. Court records and an obituary published online show Ms. O’Mahony had been married to attorney William O’Mahony, who died March 11, 2017 at the age of 49. Mr. O’Mahony had a practice focused in commercial law and insurance litigation in Brooklyn.

Ms. O’Mahony said she had no intention of fleeing the country when she arrived at JFK in December and was instead hoping to visit her home country for several months with a plan to return.

“I have no intention of going anywhere,” she told the judge.

Attorney Jason Bassett, who represented Ms. O’Mahony at the arraignment, said his client “denies any involvement in this sordid ordeal.”