The lawyers for Fotis Dulos, the Connecticut man accused of murder after his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos disappeared, will be banned from discussing the case for 40 years, according to probate court settlements.
They must also return more than half the $250,000 retainer Dulos gave them shortly before his death. Probate Judge Evelyn Daly in Farmington, where Dulos lived, approved the settlements on Tuesday, ending lawsuits filed against criminal defense lawyers Norman Pattis and Kevin Smith, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.
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. Her body still hasn't been found. Her disappearance came amid contentious divorce and child custody court proceedings.
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State police accused Fotis Dulos of attacking her in her garage when she returned from the school and driving off with her body. He was charged with murder in January 2020 and died weeks later after a suicide attempt, police said. He denied having anything to do with her disappearance.
Christopher Hug, a lawyer for Fotis Dulos' estate, negotiated the probate court settlement and said Jennifer Dulos' family hopes to avoid more publicity. Pattis once suggested Jennifer Dulos 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 Daly on Tuesday.
Pattis declined to comment on the settlement Wednesday.
The 40-year gag order is unusual for probate cases, said former state Probate Judge J. David Morrissey.
The agreement settled lawsuits filed against the Pattis & Smith firm by Jennifer Dulos' 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.
Murder conspiracy charges remain pending against Michelle Troconis, Fotis Dulos' former girlfriend, and attorney Kent Mawhinney, a friend of Fotis Dulos. Police accuse them of helping to cover up the killing. Both have pleaded not guilty.