Fotis Dulos’ attorney has reached a settlement of $140,000 in a legal fee dispute with his estate, but the deal is being blocked by the mother of missing mom Jennifer Dulos.
Defense attorney Norm Pattis agreed to repay $137,500 in legal fees to Dulos’ estate eight months after the suspected killer committed suicide while on trial for the murder of his estranged wife Jennifer.
The administrator of Dulos’ estate said Pattis should reimburse the money because Dulos killed himself before the defense team went to trial.
The estate and Pattis have now agreed on a sum but Jennifer’s mother Gloria Farber is contesting it.
Jennifer disappeared in May 2019 after dropping their children off at school, in the midst of an ugly divorce and custody battle over their five children.
Dulos is suspected of murdering Jennifer before disposing of evidence with the help of his then-girlfriend Michelle Troconis. Her body has never been found.
Jennifer’s husband tried to take his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning while on bail for her murder and died a few days later in January.
Fotis Dulos’ (left) attorney Norm Pattis (right) has reached a settlement of $140,000 in a legal fee dispute with his estate, but the deal is being blocked by the mother of missing mom Jennifer Dulos
Under the settlement, Pattis has agreed to pay back more than half of the $250,000 retainer Dulos paid him for legal fees before he died.
Dulos gave Pattis and his colleague Kevin Smith a retainer on January 16 to represent him after he was charged with Jennifer’s murder and kidnapping on January 7.
Farber, a trustee of Dulos’ estate who has custody of her daughter’s five children with the suspected killer, has opposed the deal saying the settlement is not enough.
Farber’s attorney Mark Dean filed a lawsuit against Pattis in August claiming he wrongfully kept the retainer months after Dulos’ death and should have returned the full amount to the estate.
The administrator of the estate, attorney Christopher Hug, filed to intervene in the suit and filed his own complaint on August 25.
Hug’s suit also said the retainer money should go to the estate, claiming Pattis and Smith broke their June 2019 agreement with Dulos by failing to reimburse any unused funds and spending some of it on things not related to his defense.
Jennifer (pictured) disappeared in May 2019 Dulos is suspected of murdering Jennifer before disposing of evidence with the help of his then-girlfriend Michelle Troconis
Jennifer and Fotis were embroiled in a bitter divorce and legal battle over the custody of their children (pictured with Jennifer) at the time of her disappearance
Hug later negotiated with Pattis agreeing to accept $137,500 of the $250,000 sum and has asked a judge to accept the agreement despite opposition from Farber.
Without Farber’s support, the settlement cannot go ahead.
‘At this time, the Trustee has expressed an unwillingness to support this settlement, which would prevent the settlement from fully and finally reaching fruition,’ Hug wrote in a filing Tuesday in probate court in Farmington.
‘The Administrator is hopeful that the Trustee and Mrs. Farber will see the prudence in this settlement and that it is in the best interests of the Estate and their own interest.’
If all parties sign the agreement, the suits brought by Farber and Hug against Pattis would also be dismissed.
Pattis’ attorney John Williams argued against returning the full amount of the retainer, saying Pattis had already earned some of the money providing a legal service to Dulos after he was arrested three times in connection to Jennifer’s disappearance.
The administrator of Dulos’ estate said Pattis should reimburse the money because Dulos killed himself before the defense team went to trial. The estate and Pattis have now agreed on a sum but Jennifer’s mother Gloria Farber (pictured) is contesting it
Dulos was first arrested in June 2019 on charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution, after police found Jennifer’s bloodstained clothing dumped in various locations.
He hired Pattis and Smith soon after to represent him in the case, paying them $50,000 at the time, according to Hug’s lawsuit.
Dulos then paid another lump sum of $155,000 before his second arrest on a tampering with evidence charge three months later in September.
Pattis also argued he made some money fighting a gag order which he had said made it impossible for Dulos to defend himself over the highly-publicized case.
‘It was an understanding from these parties from day one that a lot of the payment would be down the road,’ Williams said of Pattis’ agreement with Dulos over legal fees.
‘It was for all of the work over the course of the entire litigation with Mr. Dulos. It took Mr. Dulos a long time to get the money together.’
Probate Judge Evelyn Daly is expected to schedule a hearing to decide on the settlement.
Farber, who was granted custody of the Dulos’ five children after she filed a motion the same day Dulos was arrested for evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in relation to Jennifer’s disappearance, was previously awarded about $2 million in a lawsuit she filed against her son-in-law for unpaid loans to his real estate development business.
Dulos tried to take his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning while on bail for her murder and died a few days later in January
Farmington Police along with Connecticut State Police execute a search warrant on Dulos’ home in January after he didn’t show up for a court appearance
Dulos died three days later in a New York hospital. He maintained his innocence until the end
TIMELINE OF THE FOTIS DULOS CASE
2004: Fotis Dulos and Jennifer Farber get married. It is his second marriage
In the same year, her father Hilliard starts loaning him money for his property business, Fore Group.
2015: Fotis and Michelle Troconis start taking trips he paid for which he claimed were for business. They later start an affair.
January 2017: Hilliard Farber dies
March 2017: Gloria Farber takes over his estate
June 2017: Jennifer files for divorce, saying she is afraid of her husband
February 2018: Gloria Farber sues Fotis Dulos for unpaid loans
May 24 2019: Jennifer vanishes after dropping off her five children at school
June 2019: Fotis and Michelle Troconis are arrested for evidence tampering
Gloria Farber files an order for custody of the children.
House in Avon is briefly searched but not extensively.
August 2019: Troconis ‘turns’ on Dulos in police interviews, admits she lied when she said she had an alibi for him
September 2019: Fotis is arrested again for evidence tampering
January 2020: Dulos and Troconis are charged with murder
January 28: Dulos is found unresponsive at his Farmington home
January 30: Fotis dies in hospital
June 11: Police search house in Avon, CT
Her attorneys are trying to recover money through his estate, which is largely insolvent.
Farber was also given possession to Dulos’ home in Farmington.
Jennifer vanished on May 24 2019 after the school run and driving back to her home in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Police believe she is dead and that Dulos, with whom she was going through a bitter divorce battle, murdered her the day she disappeared.
In arrest affidavits, police say Dulos lay in wait for her before attacking her in the garage of her home.
Blood spatters were later found on the walls and in a car in the garage.
They think her killer then transported her body out of the home in her own Chevy Suburban.
The car was found abandoned not far from the property later that day, but there was no sign of her with police suspecting Dulos disposed of her body in New Canaan area or Farmington, where he lived.
Surveillance footage shows two people who looked like Dulos and Troconis depositing garbage bags at various locations that night that.
The bags were recovered and were found to contain a Vineyard Vines shirt Jennifer Farber was said to be wearing the day she vanished.
Tests also found found blood containing Jennifer’s DNA and Dulos’ DNA, warrants said.
Jennifer had said in divorce papers that she was afraid of her husband, and their children’s former nanny said she once witnessed him ‘chase her through the house’.
Dulos and Troconis were both charged twice with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution, first in June of that year.
Then, in September 2019, Dulos was arrested for murder and Troconis for conspiracy to commit murder.
Dulos, however, gave interviews protesting his innocence.
He said he never harmed her and, at one stage, his attorney suggested Jennifer had killed herself in a Gone Girl style plot to blame it on him.
Michelle Troconis (left) is now due in court in October for a pre-trial hearing over Jennifer’s disappearance. Kent Mawhinney (right), a former attorney for Dulos, has also been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is in prison
Dulos was free on a $6 million bond and was due to appear in court for a bond hearing on January 28 where his bond was going to be revoked and he would be sent back to jail.
Dulos didn’t show in court and, when police visited his home, they found he ha attempted to take his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage.
He left a handwritten suicide note reading: ‘If it takes my head to end this, so be it.’
Dulos died three days later in a New York hospital.
With Dulos now dead and Jennifer still missing, Troconis is now due in court in October for a pre-trial hearing over Jennifer’s disappearance.
She is currently free on a $2.1 million bond.
Kent Mawhinney, a former attorney for Dulos, has also been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is in prison.
They both plead not guilty to the charges.