By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Vermont man accused by relatives of killing his millionaire grandfather and his mother to collect inheritance money asked a Connecticut probate judge Tuesday to allow him immediate access to $150,000 in a family trust so he can pay for legal expenses.
Nathan Carman also requested that his aunt, Valerie Santilli, be removed as trustee of the Nathan Carman Family Trust, a fund that was set up for him by his grandfather in 2011 and is worth about $270,000 today, according to court documents.
Judge Owen Eagan set a full hearing date of Sept. 6 and gave Carman, who is representing himself, and Santilli’s lawyers time to question witnesses and exchange documents.
Carman, 24, of Vernon, Vermont, filed the probate court action after his request last year for $150,000 from the trust for legal expenses was rejected, court documents filed by Santilli’s lawyers say. He cited Santilli’s “extreme hostility” toward him and other factors in his court filings.
He said he needed the money for legal representation to defend himself against a lawsuit in New Hampshire filed by Santilli and her two sisters. They accuse him of killing his grandfather, John Chakalos, and possibly his mother, Linda, and are asking the New Hampshire judge to block him from collecting any money from his grandfather’s estate.
“I need to hire an attorney to defend me in New Hampshire to ensure a just outcome,” Carman, dressed in a wrinkled gray suit, told Eagan.
Carman also repeated that he had no involvement in the deaths of his grandfather and mother. He declined to answer questions after the hearing.
Santilli’s attorney, Dan Small, said Carman already has enough money to hire a lawyer and refuses to provide any details of his finances.
Chakalos, a real estate developer, was found shot to death in his home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013. Police said Carman was a suspect in the killing, but a prosecutor declined to sign an arrest warrant and no one has been charged. Carman’s mother, Linda, went missing during a fishing trip with him in 2016 after their boat sank near Rhode Island and is presumed dead. Carman was rescued at sea.
Chakalos, 87, who also had a home in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire, left an estate now worth more than $29 million to his four daughters, and $7 million of that could go to Carman.
Carman also is fighting an insurer in federal court in Rhode Island over his insurance claim for his boat. The insurer alleges he made suspicious alterations to the boat before it sank and it is trying to avoid payment on the $85,000 policy.
Santilli’s lawyers say she appointed an independent lawyer, at Carman’s urging, to review his request for $150,000 for legal costs, and that request was rejected because Carman refused to provide financial information. They also say Santilli previously approved giving Carman $25,000 in 2012 for him to buy a car and $175,000 in 2014 to pay his Connecticut defense lawyer, who later returned $150,000 to the trust, court documents say.
Carman told the probate judge Tuesday that he did not want to give the independent lawyer his financial information because he was concerned the lawyer would give it to Santilli and she would use it against him in the New Hampshire case. Carman said he would agree to provide the information if there was a confidentiality agreement.
Small said Santilli and her sisters do not want Carman profiting from the deaths of his grandfather and mother.
“The family is obviously very upset at this process but they’re looking for justice,” Small said.