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 a separate case, Dulos and his estranged girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, have pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with his wife’s May disappearance.
As part of the civil lawsuit, Dulos is accused of using the loans he received from his in-laws over the course of 10 years to finance his house and his home-building company, Fore Group. In court on Tuesday, he insisted the money was a gift from his late father-in-law, Hilliard Farber, who died in 2017.
“He and I had a very good relationship,” Dulos said, according to the Hartford Courant.
Dulos, who is currently free on a $1 million bond, claimed Hillard Farber was “like a second father” who was supportive of his business.
The father-of-five said that Farber encouraged him to start his own building company and arranged a series of loans with promissory notes to the Fore Group between 2004 and 2007. He said their financial relationship was a successful “two-way street,” as Farber would provide the capital for his projects, which Dulos would then pay back upon their completion.
“He was incredibly supportive,” Dulos said, adding the Fore Group also gave his father-in-law funds to invest. “He provided advice, he was always there for me and the business.”
With the birth of his fifth child in 2010, Dulos claimed his father-in-law told him “any advancements were not loans,” but gifts, and did not require a promissory note.
But Gloria Farber’s attorney, Richard Weinstein, argued bank records show Dulos paid himself at least $2.2 million from the company’s coffers, and since those funds were not used for business purposes, they must be returned.
Part of the unpaid balance, the lawyer said, includes a loan he was given to build the 14,000-square-foot Farmington mansion Dulos shared with his family until June 2017, when his wife left him and filed for divorce. After his father-in-law’s death, Dulos also stopped paying back the family when his business sold new properties, according to Weinstein.
Although the civil case is unrelated to Dulos’ upcoming trial, Hartford Superior Court Judge Cesar Noble reminded him that anything he says under oath could be used in future criminal proceedings.
Jennifer Dulos, 50, was last seen on May 24 after dropping off her five kids at school. Authorities later found her car abandoned on a New Canaan road. In an arrest warrant application, investigators allege Dulos was “lying in wait” at his estranged wife’s New Canaan home the day she vanished.
While police have not provided details of the crime, investigators say Jennifer was the victim of a “serious physical assault,” and “multiple stains” that “tested positive for human blood” were found on the floor and in a car inside her garage.
The arrest warrant alleged that after the crime, Dulos and his live-in girlfriend, Troconis, dumped several trash bags with bloody items. Evidence at the house also suggests there were “attempts to clean the crime scene,” authorities said. Troconis, 44, told authorities Dulos and his wife were in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle over the children at the time she went missing.
Despite initially telling police that she and her boyfriend shared a shower the morning of the murder, Troconis later recanted and said she did not see Dulos that morning. She also told investigators Dulos borrowed a truck from one of his employees just before his wife’s disappearance. Troconis told investigators she believed he had the truck washed because “Jennifer at some point was in there.”