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SIBLINGS FEUD OVER TOBACCO FARMER FATHER’S ESTATE: EDWIN JARMOC’S DAUGHTER ACCUSES BROTHER OF FRAUD, HIDING PROOF OF FATHER’S DEMENTIA
By Marcus Hatfield, Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011 12:39 PM EST
ENFIELD — In a probate battle over former tobacco farmer Edwin Jarmoc’s estate, his daughter has accused her brother of fraud and self-dealing and using his father’s estate as collateral to take out millions of dollars in loans while his father suffered from dementia.
Laura Jarmoc, a doctor who lives in New Hampshire, has claimed that the will submitted after her father’s 2009 death was the “product of fraud and undue influence” by her brother, Stephen Jarmoc, a former state representative who is running the family’s tobacco farm in town.
The will, she said, does not “represent the intent” of Edwin Jarmoc and was executed in 2004 when he “lacked the capacity to understand the nature of the gifts which the will purports to devise.”
Laura Jarmoc also accused her brother of denying for years that their father suffered from dementia until the court ordered him to disclose their father’s medical records. Those records showed that Edwin Jarmoc was diagnosed with dementia in November 2004, about four months after the disputed will was executed, the objection said.
Laura Jarmoc has also sought to have her brother removed as the executor of the estate, but that motion has not been ruled upon.
Stephen Jarmoc’s lawyers sought a gag order in the case in November, but Probate Judge O. James Purnell said he could not issue a confidentiality order in the case.
Purnell, a probate judge in Vernon, has been overseeing the Jarmoc case in Enfield since former Enfield Probate Judge Susan Warner recused herself last summer.The fight could be headed to Superior Court after Purnell recently denied Laura Jarmoc’s objection to the admission of her father’s will, saying her claims are “essentially irrelevant” because the probate court does not have the jurisdiction to reconsider admitting the will.
The lawyers representing each of the siblings declined comment. Thomas Tyler of Enfield and A. Paul Spinella of Hartford represent Laura Jarmoc while Stephen Jarmoc is represented by Edward Heath of Robinson & Cole in Hartford.
Motions and objections filed by Laura Jarmoc’s lawyers accuse Stephen Jarmoc of manipulating his father and using his credit to take out millions of dollars in loans to benefit himself and his wife, Karen Jarmoc.
Stephen Jarmoc served in the 59th House District from 1992 to 2006, when he stepped down and his wife was elected. Karen Jarmoc gave up the seat last year in a failed bid to unseat Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield.
In his own filings, Stephen Jarmoc flatly denies his sister’s allegations, saying their father left more to him because he stayed in Enfield to run the family business while she left to pursue a career in medicine.
Stephen Jarmoc noted that his sister did not object to the admission of the will until 15 months after it was submitted and even failed to attend the hearing at which the court accepted it.
Laura Jarmoc said in court papers that she did not immediately object to the will because her brother withheld information about the estate. In court papers, her lawyers said that evidence was “purposefully made unavailable to Laura at the time of the purported will’s probate and within the statutory period to file an appeal.”
When that information was eventually disclosed, she said it revealed “a scheme of misappropriation, fraud, duress, and self-dealing by Stephen Jarmoc.”
Laura Jarmoc’s objection to the admission of her father’s will suggested that her brother’s self-dealing started years before their father died, with Edwin Jarmoc co-signing on loans, mortgages, and financial deals through which, she said, he received no economic benefit.
She said she was not aware of those deals until she learned of a $7.3 million claim against her father’s estate by lender Farm Credit East. She said she first learned of the claim in March 2010 even though her brother was notified in July 2009, about a month after their father’s death.
Laura Jarmoc said the claim represented a conflict of interest that impacted her share of the estate but her brother said the claim specifically excludes the “proceeds to be transferred to Laura Jarmoc.”
Her father’s July 16, 2004 will “overwhelmingly favors Stephen Jarmoc, without any apparent reason for such disproportionate gifts,” Laura Jarmoc said in court papers.
She said she was unaware of the 2004 will until her father died and thought that her father’s will had been executed in 1978 at the same time her mother created her will. Her mother, Eleanor Jarmoc, died in 1998.
Laura Jarmoc did not claim in any court filings that Stephen Jarmoc wrote her father’s will but did say he prepared the statement of Edwin Jarmoc’s assets.
After the 2004 will was created, Stephen Jarmoc “set out on a borrowing spree,” using his father’s credit to refinance loans and “open enormous operating and capital lines of credit,” Laura Jarmoc said in court documents.
According to land records maintained by the town clerk, Edwin, Stephen, and Karen Jarmoc signed off on several mortgages and loans on Aug. 2, 2004, about two weeks after the new will was created.
The properties mortgaged included properties owned by Edwin Jarmoc as well as Stephen and Karen Jarmoc’s home. Some of the properties were owned through various business entities created by Edwin and Stephen Jarmoc.
The business entities listed on the mortgages were Jarmoc Farms LLC, Jarmoc Tobacco LLC, and Jarmoc Real Estate LLC. According to the secretary of the state’s office, Stephen Jarmoc was the only listed member of Jarmoc Farms LLC while he and his father are listed as members of the other two entities.
A fourth entity, Jarmoc Leaf Tobacco LLC, which was formed by Stephen Jarmoc in May 2010, was listed on a mortgage document for a Nov. 11, 2010 deal involving a property near Charnley Road.
Laura Jarmoc said her father co-signed on loans for the 2005 purchase of the Maturo and Lego farms. She said that while her father had no ownership interest in the new properties, he made statements at the time that suggested he thought he did. Those deals were worth $2 million and $1.5 million respectively.
In court papers, Laura Jarmoc said that the credit lines taken out after the 2004 will was made expanded to $4.7 million by the end of 2007 even though Edwin Jarmoc had just $100 in farm debt before the will was executed.
She said that Edwin Jarmoc made “extravagant gifts” to his son and daughter-in-law in the last years of his life, giving them a total of $400,000 in 2002 and 2003. Stephen and Karen Jarmoc took control of Edwin Jarmoc’s farm finances around the time of his wife’s death, Laura Jarmoc said.
In a court motion, Laura Jarmoc claimed her father had just $5,000 in his personal bank accounts at the time of his death, despite reporting $2.6 million in income between 1997 and 2008 and maintaining a “frugal lifestyle.”
Laura Jarmoc said her father exhibited signs of dementia for years. She said he forgot conversations and, in 2003, said he had no memory of a family vacation he had just taken. He had “difficulty taking care of basic life tasks, including payment of bills,” she said, and on one occasion services to his home were discontinued due to nonpayment even though he had money.
Laura Jarmoc said her brother and sister-in-law brought meals to Edwin Jarmoc because he “subsisted on an unhealthy diet of ice cream and other non-nutritious foods.”
Despite their involvement, she said, Stephen and Karen Jarmoc denied that Edwin Jarmoc suffered from dementia until the court compelled Stephen Jarmoc to disclose his father’s medical records. In a July 2009 conversation about their father’s estate, Laura Jarmoc said in her motion, her brother said their father did not suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and merely had “memory problems.”
There were signs, however, that Stephen and Karen Jarmoc were aware of Edwin Jarmoc’s dementia for some time.
Edwin Jarmoc’s medical records show that Stephen Jarmoc spoke with doctors about his father’s treatment, court papers filed by his sister’s lawyers said, and, at the October 2009 Enfield “Memory Walk” sponsored by the Connecticut Alzheimer’s Association, Karen Jarmoc told the crowd that “her family had coped with her father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s disease for years.”
Laura Jarmoc also accused her brother of withholding financial and tax information and failing to file timely inventories of their father’s estate with the probate court. Those delays, she said, were meant to stop her from objecting to the will’s admission.
“It now appears that Stephen Jarmoc engaged in a deliberate course of fraud to deceive, trick and/or discourage Laura from contesting the July 2004 will of Edwin Jarmoc,” Laura Jarmoc’s lawyers wrote.
Stephen Jarmoc said his sister has told conflicting stories about when she learned of her father’s “purported mental health issues.”
“Obviously, the executor fraudulently concealed nothing about Edwin Jarmoc’s mental health from Ms. Jarmoc, who is a medical doctor,” his objection to his sister’s motion said.