Connecticut man whose wife disappeared stands trial against his in-law

Conn. man whose wife disappeared stands trial

Hartford, Conn. – More than six months after Jennifer Dulos, a mother of five, vanished from her Connecticut home, cameras will be in court as her husband, Fotis Dulos, fights accusations he owes Jennifer's family millions of dollars. Fotis is also facing charges in connection with his wife's disappearance in a separate criminal case.

According to the Stamford Advocate, Gloria Farber, Jennifer's mother, and her late husband sued Fotis in January 2018, nearly 18 months before Jennifer disappeared. At the time, Fotis and Jennifer were involved in a bitter divorce battle. At the center of the lawsuit was $2.5 million.

Fotis was allegedly supposed to pay that money back to Jennifer's parents after they invested in his real estate business, reports CBS News correspondent Mola Lenghi. Gloria Farber claimed Fotis still owed her more than a quarter of that money, which Fotis said was a gift.

"These commercial transactions took place years ago. We don't think they shed any light whatsoever on the criminal allegations," said Norm Pattis, who represents Fotis in the criminal trial where Fotis and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, have pleaded not guilty to evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.

Tuesday will be the first time we hear from Fotis on a witness stand. While the civil case is unrelated to the criminal trial, lawyers on both sides will be able to see how Fotis acts and what he may say under oath as he comes face-to-face with his missing wife's mother.

"Whatever is said tomorrow can also be used in any potential criminal trial. Does that complicate things, does it add more pressure?" Lenghi asked.

"Yes and yes, it's a profoundly complicated question," Pattis said.

The civil trial comes as police continue to investigate how Jennifer disappeared – and whether Fotis was responsible. Fotis was in court last month for a hearing related to Jennifer's disappearance but would not comment on the case.

"My only concern are my children," Fotis had said.

CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said even though the civil case might have nothing to do with the criminal one, Fotis is taking a big risk by testifying.

"A slip of the tongue here could really be trouble for him in a criminal case," Klieman said.

Fotis maintains his innocence in the civil and criminal cases. Some predict this civil trial will take two days. It will be decided by a judge instead of a jury. All parties involved in the criminal proceeding are under a gag order, so it's unclear if we will hear anything related to that case. Fotis and his girlfriend are currently out on bond.