He gave her bup-Kiss
June 24, 2004
Prosecutors say Jesse Hilsen, a high-priced shrink as well as the ex-business manager of the heavy metal band, cheated his family of alimony, child support and other hidden assets.
"It's about time," said ex-wife Rita Hilsen, who has lived in city homeless shelters for the past nine years, destitute after her husband skipped out on their divorce agreement.
The deadbeat doc led a private investigator on a chase from Germany to South Africa. He was finally caught in a small Catskills town 129 miles north of the city.
Now Hilsen, 64, is facing up to two years in prison if convicted under tough new federal Deadbeat Dad laws.
"How could a child psychiatrist abandon his wife and children?" said Rita Hilsen, 62, from her digs at Booth House, an upper West Side homeless facility. "This is a shelter I'm living in. It is pretty outrageous."
Jesse Hilsen was a ritzy New York psychiatrist in the 1970s and early '80s and later hooked up with Kiss after worming his way into the group's inner circle as guitarist Paul Stanley's shrink.
The Hilsens lived the good life. They owned several Manhattan apartments, collected sculpture and sent their son and two daughters to the best private schools.
But then Hilsen dumped his wife of 20 years, got a divorce in 1988 and tried to hide his money by declaring bankruptcy and saying he was broke.
A former Kiss bookkeeper testified the band paid Hilsen more than $700,000 from 1988 to 1992, including more than $500,000 in 1992, a lot in cash.
Hilsen nevertheless refused to pay the court-ordered $750-a-week alimony and $400-a-week child support. When he was indicted by the feds for nonpayment in 1995, he owed $175,000 in child support alone.
The bill was up to about $1.8 million in 2001, said Rita Hilsen's former lawyer Jonathan Green. Add in the value of Manhattan co-ops, artwork, life insurance and stocks, and the debt could rise to $3 million.
"I won an extraordinary judgment that gave me half of everything," Rita Hilsen told the Daily News. "But then he declared a fraudulent bankruptcy. It's been 20 years and he's never done anything for his family."
Arrest warrants were first issued for Hilsen in 1994, and a federal grand jury re-indicted him last July.
Investigator Steven Rambam tracked Hilsen around the globe, peeling back the doctor's multiple aliases and tracking him through Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and finally South Africa.
"His daughter couldn't afford new glasses. His kids were hurt. I asked him how he could let that happen," Rambam said. "He said, 'Well, that has caused me some angst.' "
Rambam's heat forced Hilsen to leave South Africa for his uncle's mansion in West Kill, N.Y., where Rambam found him and alerted police.
"This is just the first step," Rita Hilsen said. "Do you remember those [Magic] 8-Balls, that you would ask a question and turn over for the answer?" she said. "It's like that. The answer of whether I'll get justice is - too soon to tell."