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Woman's disappearance hangs over civil trial pitting her mother against her estranged husband

Dave Altimari, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The disappearance of Jennifer Farber Dulos will loom over a civil trial scheduled to start Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court that pits the missing woman's mother against her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, who is being sued over millions of dollars in back payments for loans that helped finance his luxury home building business.

Dulos, 52, of Farmington, is expected to take the witness stand in the case, the first time he would testify under oath in a courtroom since his wife and the mother of his five children disappeared May 24.

The trial before Judge Cesar Noble will decide whether Dulos owes the estate of Hillard Farber, Farber Dulos' father who died in 2016, about $2.54 million.

Attorney Richard Weinstein, who is representing Gloria Farber, Farber Dulos' mother, will argue that loans made to Dulos' home building company 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.

What normally might include testimony about a mundane financial dispute will become prime theater as Dulos is expected to testify on his own behalf and his now ex-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, is a possible rebuttal witness. John P. Schmitt, the executor of Hillard Farber's estate who was also an attorney for Bill Cosby, is also expected to testify.

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.

 

Dulos' criminal defense attorney, Norm Pattis, said he will be present at the trial to ensure that Weinstein doesn't ask his client questions about the disappearance of Farber Dulos.

Dulos has conducted 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's five children have been living with Gloria Farber in New York City since their mother disappeared.

Weinstein is unlikely to try to question Dulos about iwhether 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.

It is less clear about the status of Troconis as a witness. She is not on the list Weinstein has filed with the judge but could be called as a rebuttal witness.

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