Litigation, foreclosure cases complicate Fotis Dulos estate

Dulos reportedly did not leave a will

Feb.February 03, 2020 06:00 PM
Fotis Dulos (AP Images/ Erik Trautmann)

Fotis Dulos (AP Images/ Erik Trautmann)

Less than a week after Farmington developer Fotis Dulos killed himself at one of his Connecticut properties, a battle has emerged over who will take over his assets. Some of those are already tied up in litigation, and questions swirl over what will happen to them.

Dulos last month was charged with kidnapping and murdering his wife, Jennifer Farber Dulos, whose body has not been found after she disappeared in May. She was last seen dropping the couple’s kids off at school.

Last week, Dulos died in a Bronx hospital, a couple of days after a suicide attempt at 4 Jefferson Crossing in Farmington, Conn., one of the luxury mansions he developed. Police found him in the home after he failed to appear at a hearing on whether his $6 million bond would be revoked. The company that posted the bond raised issues with the six properties Dulos used as collateral for the payment.

Dulos’ portfolio of high-end mansions, developed by his Farmington-based firm, the Fore Group, had been lauded with awards over construction and design. The attorneys representing Dulos and his wife’s family’s trust, managed by Dulos’ mother-in-law, Gloria Farber, recently said they planned to file competing probate cases to gain control of those assets, the Hartford Courant reported. The attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Real Deal.

Richard Weinstein, the attorney representing Farber, told the Courant he did not expect a positive cash flow from the estate. “He was selling furniture from the house on eBay so he had no funds,” he said.

The estate of Jennifer Farber Dulos’ father has two pending lawsuits in Hartford Superior Court against Dulos, alleging that he owes more than $2 million to the estate for loans for Dulos’ business.

Also, two of Fore’s properties are under foreclosure. In November, the Savings Bank of Danbury filed to foreclose against a nearly $2.8 million construction loan for a 7,300-square-foot property at 61 Sturbridge Hill Road in New Canaan. On Jan. 30, a judge ordered Luigi D’Acunto of DBI Development LLC, a Norwalk, Conn.-based developer of modular homes, as receiver of the property. He declined to comment.

About two months prior, the Farber estate filed to foreclose on the Farmington home, over a $2.3 million BNY Mellon loan from 2011 that the estate took over. A court recently named Rob Giuffria of Tea Leaf Realty as receiver of the 14,000-square-foot property.

Giuffria signed on last June to market the Farmington house for $4.35 million. But that property was taken off the market in October.

He told The Real Deal he was relieved when the listing ended.

“When the house transitioned, of course we didn’t have the listing anymore — somewhat of a relief, quite frankly, just to not have to deal with a house [that’s] so high profile,” he said.

Giuffria said he had known Dulos since 2013, when he began to attend open houses for Dulos’ properties. Dulos, who at his peak may have had seven or eight people working for him, Giuffria estimated, was known for his well-made homes.

“Real estate agents and brokers couldn’t believe what he would get on a price per square foot, but quite honestly he built very nice houses,” said Giuffria, who added that Dulos’ homes often fetched per-square-foot prices that were sometimes 25 to 30 percent more than other luxury builders in the area.

Giuffria said it did not appear that Dulos had any projects under construction at the time of his death, but Dulos’ website listed five mansions — including the Jefferson Crossing and Sturbridge Hill homes — as “available.”

Even if that Jefferson Crossing home were to hit the market again, it’s not clear how long it would take to sell, or what it’s worth now. Giuffria said the original listing price, of $4.35 million, was already “optimistic,” given Connecticut’s lagging luxury home market.

But the stigma attached to the property and any occupants in the house could also complicate the timeline, he said. Dulos reportedly shared the home with friend Anna Curry, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based management consultant who helped Dulos pay his bail, according to the New York Post. Giuffria said he visited the house on Saturday and Curry answered the door, but he said he was unsure how long she was staying there.

“I didn’t expect anyone to be there,” Giuffria said. (Curry could not immediately be reached for comment.)

Dulos and his wife were in the midst of a bitter divorce at the time of Jennifer Farber Dulos’s disappearance. Dulos’ ex-girlfriend and co-defendent in the murder case, Michelle Traconis, also had lived in the Jefferson Crossing home, according to the Post, before she moved out in the fall. One of Dulos’ attorneys, Kent Mawhinney, also has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Write to Mary Diduch at [email protected]

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