The lawyers for Fotis Dulos, the Connecticut man accused of murder after his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos vanished, will be banned from discussing the high-profile case for 40 years.
According to probate court settlements, his attorneys must also return to his estate more than half the $250,000 retainer Dulos gave them shortly before killing himself just weeks after being charged with his wife’s murder.
Probate Judge Evelyn Daly approved the unusual non-disclosure settlements on Tuesday, ending lawsuits filed against criminal defense lawyers Norman Pattis and Kevin Smith, Hearst Connecticut Media reports.
A trustee for Jennifer Dulos’ family sued the lawyers claiming they improperly kept the retainer.
It is not clear why the attorneys were banned from speaking about the case.
Jennifer Dulos vanished in May 2019 after dropping the estranged couple’s five children off at school in New Canaan where she was living – a case that drew international news coverage and led to TV documentaries and a movie.
Fotis Dulos’ attorneys, Norm Pattis (left) and Kevin Smith (right), have been banned from discussing the high-profile case for 40 years, according to probate court settlements
Her body still hasn’t been found despite extensive searches by authorities.
Christopher Hug, a lawyer for Fotis’ estate, negotiated the probate court settlement and said her family hopes to avoid more publicity.
Pattis once suggested she may have staged her disappearance to frame Fotis Dulos, similar to the plot of Gone Girl, a novel made into a movie.
‘The heirs of the estate were very concerned about confidentiality,’ Hug told the probate judge on Tuesday.
Pattis declined to comment on the settlement.
The 40-year gag order is unusual for probate cases, according to former state Probate Judge J. David Morrissey.
The agreement settled lawsuits filed against the Pattis & Smith firm by her family and Fotis Dulos’ estate.
It also calls for the firm to return $137,000 of the $250,000 retainer Fotis Dulos paid after he was charged with murder.
Jennifer Dulos vanished in May 2019 after dropping the estranged couple’s five children off at school in New Canaan where she was living. Fotis Dulos denied having anything to do with his estranged wife’s disappearance
Murder conspiracy charges remain pending against Michelle Troconis, Fotis’ former girlfriend, and Fotis’ attorney friend Kent Mawhinney. Police accuse them of helping to cover up the killing
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 2020: Dulos is found unresponsive at his Farmington home
January 30 2020: Fotis dies in hospital
June 11: Police search house in Avon, CT
January 19- 20 2021: Police returned to Farmington, CT and use excavator to search yard
The disappearance came amid contentious divorce and child custody court proceedings.
Police accused Fotis Dulos of attacking her in her garage when she returned from the school and driving off with her body. He was accused of plotting against Jennifer Dulos with the help of his then-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis.
Authorities have previously said they don’t believe Dulos could have survived the ‘serious physical attack’ without urgent medical attention.
Early in the investigation, police said they have surveillance video allegedly showing Fotis in a pickup truck with Troconis disposing bags of items, some of which were later recovered and found to be stained with her blood.
They also had traffic and school bus camera footage of a man they believed was Fotis Dulos driving a pickup to New Canaan on the morning she disappeared; surveillance video of Fotis Dulos getting the truck washed and detailed days after she vanished; and evidence that her DNA was found on the truck’s passenger seat.
He was arrested for evidence tampering before being charged with murder in January 2020.
He died in a hospital just weeks later after being found unresponsive at his home following a suicide attempt. He denied having anything to do with Jennifer’s disappearance.
Murder conspiracy charges remain pending against Michelle Troconis, Fotis’ former girlfriend, and Fotis’ attorney friend Kent Mawhinney.
Police accuse them of helping to cover up the killing.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Troconis’ family said as recently as two months ago that she is being treated unfairly in the case.
‘Michelle is an amazing woman, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who has been treated unfairly, contrary to what the American Justice System is supposed to be about: ‘With freedom and justice for all!’,’ they said in a statement.
‘Michelle has been treated as if she were guilty from day one, with police, investigators, the media, and members of the public ignoring the presumption of innocence that the United States Constitution claims to offer to all its citizens.’
Police returned to Farmington, CT in January this year and used excavator to search the 5-acre property (above) once owned by Fotis Dulos