Crime Fotis Dulos testifies at civil trial in financial dispute with mother of estranged wife, Jennifer Farber Dulos, missing since May
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Fotis Dulos, the Farmington luxury home builder charged in connection with the disappearance of his estranged wife Jennifer Farber Dulos, took the witness stand Tuesday in a trial over a civil lawsuit filed by Farber Dulos’ mother, who claims Dulos owes her late husband’s estate about $3 million in unpaid loans.
Dulos testified that his father-in-law, Hilliard Farber, was like a second father to him and encouraged him to start his own building business, which later became The Fore Group Inc. The Superior Court trial before Judge Cesar Noble could decide whether Dulos owes the estate about $2.54 million. Farber ran Chase Manhattan Bank’s bond trading desk before founding his own brokerage firm in 1975. He died in 2017.
Husband of Missing Connecticut Mom Jennifer Dulos Takes Stand in Civil Lawsuit Brought by Mother-in-Law
Six months after Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos disappeared after dropping her children off at school, her estranged husband took the stand in a civil lawsuit filed by his mother-in-law. Fotis Dulos, 52, testified in Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday in his own defense against a January 2018 lawsuit filed by Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber. The lawsuit alleges he owes Farber and her late husband nearly $2.54 million in unpaid loans. In aFotis Dulos, 52, testified in Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday in his own defense against a January 2018 lawsuit filed by Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber. The lawsuit alleges he owes Farber and her late husband nearly $2.54 million in unpaid loans.
“He and I had a very good relationship,” Dulos said.
Attorney Richard Weinstein, who is representing Gloria Farber, Farber Dulos’ mother, is arguing that loans made to The Fore Group between 2004 and 2016 must be paid back to the estate while attorney William Murray, who is representing Dulos, will argue he owes nothing because the money from his then-father-in-law were gifts to help him with his business.
The disappearance of Farber Dulos did not come up during morning testimony.
Weinstein rested his case after calling several lawyers and accountants to go over the financial records of the The Fore Group. A paralegal from Weinstein’s office testified that bank records showed in 2018 through June of 2019 that Dulos paid himself and more than $2.2 million from Fore Group accounts.
Fotis Dulos, Estranged Husband Of Missing CT Mom Jennifer Dulos, On The Stand In Civil Trial
Speaking firmly in his Greek-accented English, Fotis Dulos insisted his relationship with his missing wife's father was respectful and even loving before Hilliard Farber's death in 2017.The Farber family is suing Fotis Dulos for unpaid loans that he claimed were gifts.
Weinstein alleged in court documents that Dulos owes the estate more than $2.4 million but acknowledged that number is lower because The Fore Group built a guest house on the family’s Pound Ridge, N.Y. property and weren’t paid fully for it.
Dulos, called as a witness by Murray, testified that he built the 1,800-square-foot guest house in 2007-08 for the Farbers. State police searched that property in the days after Farber Dulos went missing.
State police have said that Farber Dulos was the victim of a violent assault in the garage of her New Canaan home just miles from Pound Ridge.
Before his testimony began Judge Noble made sure that Dulos understood that he was facing criminal charges and his testimony could be used against him. He also said if he had any concerns about a question he could consult with his criminal attorney, Norm Pattis, who was present in the courtroom.
Estranged husband of missing mom Jennifer Dulos in legal battle with in-laws
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Dulos has been arrested twice in connection with his wife’s disappearance. He faces charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. He is free on a combined $1 million bond.
Pattis said he was at Tuesday’s trial because he wanted to ensure that Weinstein did not ask his client questions about the disappearance of Farber Dulos.
Dulos has done a couple of controlled television interviews from his Farmington home since his estranged wife’s disappearance, otherwise he has kept his public comments to short statements about how much he misses his children. The couple have five children, who have been living with Gloria Farber in New York City since their mother disappeared.
Weinstein is unlikely to try and question Dulos about if he knows what happened to Farber Dulos. He is more likely to focus on where he is getting the money to pay Pattis and at least three other attorneys representing him in criminal, civil and family court. In court documents, Weinstein has theorized that Dulos has several Greek benefactors who are paying his legal fees. He tried unsuccessfully to depose Pattis about who is paying him.
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Weinstein has been fighting to get Dulos’ girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, to answer questions about what she knows about the business dealings of the Fore Group. During a recent deposition, she refused to answer his questions, citing the Fifth Amendment, which protects her from self-incrimination. She answered only two questions — her name and where she was living.
Her attorney, Andrew Bowman, has said in court papers that he advised her to take the Fifth because he is concerned she could face conspiracy to murder charges for the disappearance of Farber Dulos and that any questions surrounding her relationship with him could be used against her.
But Noble recently granted a motion by Weinstein forcing her to answer 18 questions from the deposition. Some are basic ones such as whether she has an Argentinian passport, but others focus on her time living in Miami and whether Dulos visited her there or did business with people there.
Weinstein has specifically asked Troconis about Dulos’ personal purchases using cards in the name of the Fore Group. He also asked her who paid for recent trips to such places as Spain, Greece and Colorado.
Troconis also has been charged twice in connection with Farber Dulos’ disappearance and is free on a combined $600,000 bond.
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Troconis recently moved all of her belongings out of the Jefferson Court home in Farmington where she lived with Dulos.
The Jefferson Court home is one of the properties under dispute in the civil trial.
In a 43-page arrest warrant affidavit released in September after Dulos and Troconis were charged with tampering with evidence a second time, state police allege that Dulos was “lying in wait” for his wife back at her house.
The arrest warrant affidavit details how state police investigators used a variety of video surveillance systems to chart how they believe Dulos traveled from his Farmington home to Farber Dulos’ New Canaan home early on the day she disappeared. Police say he was driving a red Toyota truck that belonged to a Fore Group employee.
“The crime and clean-up are believed to have occurred between 8:05 a.m. and 10:25 a.m,” the affidavit said.
Jennifer’s white Chevy Suburban is seen on video leaving the New Canaan home around 10:25 a.m. and state police theorize that Dulos was driving it.
“Dulos is believed to be operating the victim’s vehicle, which is carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos and a number of other items associated with the clean-up which occurred in the garage of the residence,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Despite hundreds of hours of searches from New Canaan to Farmington to a trash plant in Hartford, state police haven’t found Farber Dulos.
According to the timeline laid out by investigators, Troconis enters the picture on May 24.
After the truck returned to a Mountain Spring Road property owned by the Fore Group, Troconis told police she arrived there and saw Dulos cleaning “a coffee spill” from the front seat of the Toyota truck. But she said when he handed her the stained towels they “didn’t smell like coffee,” court records said.
Investigators later found Farber Dulos’ DNA in a swatch of fabric taken from a seat in the truck that contained a “bloodlike substance,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Later on the night of May 24, police said Troconis was with Dulos when he allegedly drove to Albany Avenue in Hartford and threw away at least two garbage bags filled with bloody items, including a shirt that Farber Dulos was wearing earlier that day, court records said.
Dulos also is seen on surveillance video disposing of a car mat that matched one missing from Farber Dulos’ Suburban as well as a FedEx package that contained a license plate that belonged to a car owned by Dulos, court records said. Troconis, police say, can be seen in one of the videos sitting in the front passenger seat with the door open as Dulos disposes of the FedEx package.
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