FARMINGTON — A West Hartford real estate managing broker has now become the focal point of legal wrangling between attorneys for Fotis Dulos and his mother-in-law in a battle over his unresolved financial affairs.
Attorneys for Fotis Dulos are seeking the removal of the Rob Giuffria as the court-appointed caretaker of his Jefferson Crossing home after the West Hartford real estate broker released photos of the garage where their client’s apparent suicide occurred on Jan. 28, court documents said.
Fotis Dulos, charged in the death and disappearance of his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, died from an apparent suicide last week as he faced the possibility of his $6 million bond being revoked and being sent back to jail.
Since his death Thursday in a New York hospital, attorneys have been sparring over his estate and financial affairs. His contentious two-year divorce also came to an end on Tuesday after more than 300 court filings made in the case since Jennifer Dulos sought to end the marriage in June 2017.
Fotis and Jennifer Dulos lived in the Jefferson Crossing home that his company, Fore Group, built and is now at the center of a legal dispute.
Giuffria was appointed Friday by Hartford Superior Judge Cesar Noble to maintain the Farmington property against the wishes of attorneys Norm Pattis and Michael Habib who represent Dulos.
An attorney for Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber, contends that Pattis and Habib have no standing in protecting the home since their client is dead.
Two days after Fotis Dulos was declared dead from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, Giuffria, of Tea Leaf Realty, went to his Farmington home with police and photographed key aspects of the apparent suicide, according to Habib in court papers filed Tuesday.
Farber filed to foreclose on the home last year as police continued their investigation into her daughter’s missing persons case.
Her attorney, Richard Weinstein, contends in court documents filed Tuesday that Giuffria was trying to defend his reputation after attorneys for Fotis Dulos claimed he owed their client when he distributed the photos and gave interviews on Monday.
“They specifically asked about the accusation by the Dulos estate,” Giuffria said in an email to Weinstein Tuesday morning. “I, in no way, owe Mr. Dulos money.”
Giuffria also said he was in “full agreement” that he should not speak to the media.
Hearst Connecticut Media called Giuffria to request the photos around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Giuffria said he would only supply the photos, which show graphic images of the garage where the apparent suicide occurred, if he was also interviewed. There was no discussion about owing Dulos money and the interview was set for 4 p.m.
Giuffria declined to be interviewed about three hours later after Weinstein told him to stop handing out the photos and giving interviews.
“I believe in our legal process and I certainly understand that the Farber-Dulos case has become a national, and international case,” Weinstein told Hearst Connecticut Media on Monday. “But there is a sense of decency and a sense of propriety. He has no right to give out interviews or photos and I have directed him not to provide any access to the house.”
Weinstein asked the court on Jan. 29 to appoint Giuffria, who was previously the listing agent for the home, as a temporary receiver of the property to maintain the residence and make sure utility bills are paid.
Habib contends in his motion to have Giuffria removed as the caretaker of the property that the real estate broker snapped photos of the vehicle Dulos rigged for the apparent suicide and then offered the images to Fox 61 on Monday, just minutes after attorneys on both sides participated in a teleconference to discuss the resolution of the Farmington man’s affairs.
The real estate broker’s actions in releasing the photos and providing an interview, “serve absolutely no purpose in furtherance of this honorable court’s order appointing Mr. Giuffria as temporary receiver,” Habib said.
Habib went on to say that it was “blatantly apparent” that Giuffria was using his status as the caretaker of the home for “his own personal gain, to self-promote himself and his realty business” and to gain “personal and professional notoriety in the press, in furtherance of his own self-interests.”
Habib had argued last week against the appointment of Giuffria as the caretaker, saying that the real estate broker owed Fotis Dulos money and would not serve the best interest of his estate.
Dulos died Thursday at a New York hospital after suffering from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. A representative from the New York medical examiner’s office said Monday the cause and manner of death have not yet been determined.
In a note found in his car, Dulos said: “I refuse to spend even an hour more in jail.”
Dulos was slated to appear in court last Tuesday for an emergency hearing, where a judge could have revoked his $6 million bond and sent him back to jail.
Fotis Dulos had been on house arrest in the Farmington home after being charged Jan. 7 with felony murder, murder and first-degree kidnapping in the death and disappearance of his estranged wife.