Fotis Dulos' Lawyers Ordered to Return $137K to Family, Not Discuss Case for 40 Years

The lawyers who defended Fotis Dulos, the Connecticut man accused of murder after his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos' disappearance, were ordered to return $137,000 to both his estate and the wife's family and not discuss the case for 40 years, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.

The funds come from the $250,000 retainer Dulos paid his defense lawyers Norman Pattis and Kevin Smith before he died after a suicide attempt following him being charged with murder in January 2020, the Associated Press reported. Probate Judge Evelyn Daly approved a settlement to end lawsuits filed against Pattis and Smith by the Fotis Dulos estate and Jennifer Dulos' family.

"I think it's a fair and equitable agreement for the estate," said the lawyer for Fotis Dulos' estate, Christopher Hug, according to Hearst Connecticut.

Jennifer Dulos disappeared in May 2019 after dropping off her and Dulos' five children at school amid an ongoing divorce with her husband.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Fotis Dulos and His Attorney
In this Sept. 12, 2019, file photo, Fotis Dulos, center, appears with his attorney Norm Pattis, left, during Dulos' arraignment on a new tampering with evidence charge at state Superior Court in Norwalk, Conn. Erik Trautmann/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, File

Daly in Farmington, where Dulos lived, approved the settlements on Tuesday.

Jennifer Dulos lived in New Canaan. Her death 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.

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 and died weeks later after a suicide attempt, police said. He denied having anything to do with her disappearance.

Hug 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.

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.