This article was written by Mike Dinan and originally published on sister site NewCanaanite.com
The estranged husband of a New Canaan woman who’s been missing for one week borrowed nearly $10 million from his father-in-law over a dozen years prior to his wife’s filing for divorce in 2017, and still owes about $2.5 million of the loaned money, according to claims made in court filings.
Jennifer Dulos’s father, Hilliard Farber, died two years ago, and his widow, Gloria Farber, last year sued Fitos Dulos and his construction company, claiming that the son-in-law hadn’t repaid money that he’d borrowed to purchase and redevelop properties in New Canaan and Avon, according to a complaint filed in February 2018.
At first, in suing Fotis Dulos and his construction company, Fore Group Inc., for breach of contract and unjust enrichment among other civil matters, Gloria Faber had said that he failed to pay back about $1.6 million in lent money.
But Fotis Dulos in November provided the court cancelled checks showing that at least $670,000 of that had, in fact, been paid back. That led a judge in September to order that Gloria Farber could attach just $500,000 in Fitos Dulos’s assets to the case—far less than she’d been seeking.
Yet Gloria Farber then said she realized that she’d “had difficulty securing all of the decedent’s [Hilliard Farber’s] bank records and documentation in regard to the lending relationship” between her deceased husband and Fore Group, according to a second amended complaint filed Jan. 10.
A closer look at financial records showed that Hilliard Farber had lent Fore Group $9,851,158 between 2004 and 2016 and that Fotis Dulos had repaid $7,309,326, meaning there’s an unpaid balance of $2,541,831, according to the Jan. 10 filing.
Gloria Farber had been wrong to limit the claims “for amounts due in connection to the purchase and resale of properties located in New Canaan and Avon, Connecticut,” according to a Motion to Amend and Increase Prejudgment Remedy.
“However, through discovery, the plaintiff has become aware of substantial funds due and owing from the defendants [Fotis Dulos and Fore Group] to the plaintiff well beyond what was originally alleged,” Gloria Farber said in the motion.
She’s now seeking a prejudgment remedy of $3 million. Fotis Dulos objected to the new figure, saying his mother-in-law already “had her day in court on this issue.”
“Plaintiff had her opportunity to make her case in this collect action and now seeks a re-do because she failed to meet her burden of proof,” he said in an objection.
Police said Wednesday that they’ve launched a criminal investigation into Jennifer Dulos’s disappearance, running with the active missing person investigation already underway. The mother of five has been described as extremely kind and focused on her five children by some locals who know her. She had filed for divorce in June 2017 and in applying for emergency custody of the kids, said in an affidavit that she feared her husband and that he was capable of doing real harm—an assertion that Fotis Dulos denied in legal filings.
She hasn’t been seen since dropping off her kids at school on the morning of May 24, according to police, and was reported missing at 7:30 p.m. that same Friday. Her car also was found that day on Lapham Road, next to Waveny, police have said.
Since New Canaanites learned of her disappearance, many in town have expressed feelings of helplessness and concern for the Dulos children, whom police have said are safe and with family. An interfaith prayer vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Sunday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
In recent days, local and state police have collaborated with other law enforcement agencies to conduct searches in areas that include Waveny Park. Fueled in part by social media sharing, the searches have triggered wild rumors and theories among some seeking answers.
Police reiterated Thursday that Jennifer Dulos has not been found. New Canaan Police Lt. Jason Ferraro, the department’s public information officer, also said Thursday that authorities had searched a home in Pound Ridge, N.Y., as part of their investigation. He declined to elaborate, citing the active investigation.
On the same day Jennifer Dulos’s mother filed the lawsuit against Fotis Dulos and his construction company, she filed a separate “companion” complaint that about $180,000 was owed on a $500,000 personal loan made in 2012. Fotis Dulos denied the allegation in a response filed in April 2018, saying the money was not a loan but a gift from Hilliard Farber, and that it’s too late to demand repayment.
In a second count of the companion suit, Gloria Farber said that Fotis Dulos borrowed $2.3 million from a bank in order to buy the family’s home in Farmington, and that she and Hilliard Farber had served as guarantors on the debt.
Fotis Dulos “has now defaulted and failed to make those payments whereby the plaintiff claims damages as a result of the default and failure to meet said mortgage obligation as the bank is now charging plaintiff’s collateral with the payments,” the lawsuit said.
The case is on the calendar to go to trial later this year.
The Farmington home was appraised at $2,158,529, according to the town’s assessor. It’s on the market now for about $4.3 million, according to a real estate website. The home also is listed as “available” on the Fore Group website, as is the 61 Sturbridge Hill Road house in New Canaan that the company has nearly finished building.
The last legal filing that Jennifer Dulos made in the divorce case accused Fotis Dulos of lying about his finances.
Meanwhile, Fotis Dulos has not filed a response to Gloria Farber’s amended complaint. He had denied claims made in the initial lawsuit.
In it, she said that her deceased husband had “established a course of dealing” with Fitos Dulos whereby he “would loan funds to the defendant Fore Group and its predecessors for the purchase of various real properties.”
“Over the years, decedent and the defendant Fore Group followed a pattern with respect to the purchase and subsequent sale of various properties as to which the defendant Fore Group purchased properties with funds loaned by decedent, improved the properties, and resold them,” the amended complaint said. “Upon the re-sales of the properties, the defendant Fore Group repaid decedent funds that decedent had loaned defendant, Fore Group.”
Yet after years of that arrangement, $2.5 million had gone unpaid, and Gloria Farber as co-executor of her husband’s estate “has been damaged to the extent of the outstanding funds due to the estate,” the amended complaint said.
That case also is scheduled to go to trial later this year.
The couple’s ongoing divorce proceedings were referred to at least once in Gloria Farber’s claim against Fore Group. After Fotis Dulos in August 2018 moved to obtain financial documents from her—such as several years’ worth of tax returns, as well as promissory notes, mortgages, loan agreements and related email correspondence—Gloria Farber called his request “overly broad and invasive, irrelevant and immaterial and involving confidential information concerning financial dealings of the decedent and of Gloria Farber individually.”
“The defendant Fotis Dulos is involved in a protracted divorce which involves and has involved discovery,” Gloria Farber wrote in objecting to his request for production of documents. The request “is apparently a back door attempt in part by the defendant Dulos to secure documentation and information that may have been requested in regard to the divorce, but which otherwise has not been produced or objections pending or have been sustained in regard thereto.”
Anyone who had contact with Jennifer Dulos on May 24 or has information about her disappearance is asked to call the New Canaan Police tip line at 203-594-3544.