Fotis Dulos took the stand Tuesday to answer questions in connection to whether he owes more than $2 million to the parents of his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, who went missing more than six months ago.
The luxury construction businessman was previously hit with charges connected to the disappearance of the mother of five, but has not been arrested for her murder. Tuesday marked the first day of the trial in Hartford Superior Court in Hartford, Connecticut, over the $2.5 million he received from Jennifer’s parents, Gloria Farber and her late husband Hilliard. The civil case was not connected to the ongoing criminal investigation.
Farber, who did not show up to court on Tuesday, has said she and her husband loaned Fotis Dulos the millions to help him with his business, Fore Group. But Dulos has argued the money was a gift.
When called to testify Tuesday, Dulos described Hilliard Farber as "like a second father."
He said the late Farber was both financially and emotionally supportive of Dulos and Fore Group. While they had established interest rates and promissory notes from 2004 to 2007, the in-laws discontinued the notes in 2010 as they grew closer, Dulos testified.
The business exec said he would sometimes advance money for his father-in-law to invest. He added that his company had once built a guest house on his in-laws' New York property, for which he made no profit and only charged them construction-related expenses.
The other people called to testify Tuesday included attorney and executor to the late-Farber's estate, John Schmitt, and one of Dulos' former accountants.
Outside the courtroom, local affiliate FOX 61 caught up with a woman whom they identify as Rena Dulos, who described her brother as the “nicest person I know.”
“He is a very, very good person,” she continued. When asked if she thought her brother could have committed the crimes he is accused of, she said: “This is not possible, not possible. For everyone who knows him, this is obvious.”
Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24 while she and her estranged husband were in the middle of a nasty divorce and a bitter custody battle over their young children. Gloria Farber was later granted custody of the kids.
Fotis Dulos and his then-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, were initially arrested in June on charges of hindering prosecution and evidence tampering. They were re-arrested in September when they were hit with new charges of evidence tampering.
Dulos was also seen on surveillance footage around the time of Jennifer Dulos' disappearance, disposing of garbage bags miles away from his Farmington, Connecticut home. The bags were later determined to have been carrying items that contained her blood.
Her blood was also reportedly found in the car Fotis Dulos had been seen driving, which belonged to his employees' wife. After returning the car to his worker, Dulos allegedly ordered the man to replace the vehicle's seats.
Dulos and Troconis pleaded not guilty to their additional charges and were later released on bond.
Fox News' Maria Paronich contributed to this report.