Tens of millions, alleged murder plot at heart of divorce and family feud
Robert and Janet Foisie divorced in 2011, dividing accounts worth an estimated $40 million and homes in Connecticut, Florida and Nevada.
After 50 years of marriage, the couple, who for years owned homes in Old Saybrook and Noank, wanted to part ways amicably. They hired a private mediator, enabling them to keep most of their financial and personal information out of court and hammer out the details themselves.
They filed their agreement in Superior Court in Norwich, along with sworn statements of their respective assets, and in September 2011 a judge granted their divorce.
Mrs. Foisie's subsequent discovery of a bank account her ex-husband had in Switzerland, containing at least $4.5 million, has shattered the couple's harmonious separation and brought into the public arena their finances and a family feud involving an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Court cases are pending in Connecticut, Nevada and Massachusetts.
Mr. Foisie, 82, a West Hartford native, became a citizen of Antigua within the last year, according to New London attorney Drzislav "Dado" Coric, who with his partner, Gary B. Traystman, is representing Mr. Foisie in family and civil cases pending in Superior Court in Norwich.
Mrs. Foisie, 81, resides in Long Boat Key, Fla. She is asking Norwich Judge Robert F. Vacchelli, who is presiding over both of the Connecticut cases, to order a prejudgment remedy of $24.7 million. If approved, the court would attempt to garnish or attach Mr. Foisie's assets so he could not access them until the dispute is resolved.
It is unclear whether Mr. Foisie will attend a May 5 court hearing in the case. While living in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he claimed in legal filings that he suffers from health problems that would prevent him from traveling to Connecticut.
His recent change of citizenship may have put Mr. Foisie, and some of his money, even further out of reach.
In Antigua, a "citizenship by investment" program enables one to become a citizen within a few months by donating $200,000 or investing $400,000 in a real estate project or $1.5 million in a business venture. In December 2016, the government of Antigua announced Foisie had pledged to fund an unlimited number of full scholarships to citizens of Antigua and Barbuda to study engineering at his alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic University.
A member of the Class of 1956, Mr. Foisie has been WPI's most generous benefactor. Its business school is named for him and a $49 million building called the Foisie Innovation Studio is under construction.
In a Massachusetts lawsuit, Mrs. Foisie is seeking to stop WPI from spending part of a $40 million donation her ex-husband made to the school in 2014, claiming it involved some of the funds he had hidden from her during the divorce proceeding.
Nobody in Mr. Foisie's family is suffering as a result of his philanthropy, Coric said. He left his wife with $20 million to $30 million worth of assets following the divorce and has provided generously for their children and grandchildren, Coric said.
"There's an effort here to paint my client as a bad man," Coric said in a phone interview Thursday. "If you critically look at what's happened here and credit Mrs. Foisie's allegations 100 percent, it's not such that it would deprive her of being able to live the lifestyle she's accustomed to, nor is it harming anybody. The money is not going to fanciful spending by Mr. Foisie. If you believe her allegations, the money has gone to WPI to help students get scholarships. From a societal point of view, when you look at what the money has allegedly been used for, it benefits society, not Mr. Foisie at Mrs. Foisie's expense."
Mrs. Foisie's attorney, Adam Mocciolo of the Pullman & Comley law firm's Bridgeport office, filed a motion April 10 asking the judge to hold Mr. Foisie in contempt for submitting incomplete responses to a recent request for financial information. Mr. Foisie wrote in a March 20 letter to his attorneys, "I am on an island and have no way of finding some answers. Mail takes an average of 13 days."
"Defendant (Mr. Foisie) is a sophisticated and successful business person and investor," Mocciolo wrote in the motion for contempt. "His attempt to feign ignorance of the information ... or to claim an inability to obtain information about his finances because he is on an island, is a transparently dilatory tactic and should be seen as part of his wider, ongoing scheme to conceal the true nature, value, and extent of his assets and income. He has contact enough with the United States and his counsel to have sent the email that he seeks to pass off as compliance."
Mocciolo said by phone that he could not comment further.
Robert Foisie drove trucks and worked as a clerk to pay for his education at WPI and was the first member of his family to graduate from college, according to his biography on the university's website. His earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from WPI and a master's degree from Cornell University.
He began his career an engineer at Hamilton Standard Co., a manufacturer of aircraft components, and later served as chief production engineer at Pratt & Whitney. He simplified the design of a fuel control valve for jets, which led to a patent, according to the biography. He founded Matik North America Inc., a West Hartford import, distribution and service firm specializing in paper-processing machinery. He owned a Swiss company that makes cartons and packaging machinery and invested in real estate ventures, including a major renovation of the Haystack Golf Course and Haystack Mountain Ski area in Wilmington, Vt., a project that later was abandoned. The resort has since been sold.
In the divorce mediation sessions, Mr. Foisie expressed an interest in carrying on a plan to will most of the couple's assets to charity and a small amount to their children. The couple had created trust funds for their seven grandchildren, each valued at the time between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to the court filings.
Mr. Foisie agreed to continue paying for his wife's health insurance. They sold their home in Old Saybrooks's North Cove for $2.4 million. Mrs. Foisie kept the contemporary home they had built in Noank, which she has since signed over to her daughter, Lauren Foisie Glennon. They divided "miscellaneous" assets, including jewelry, clothing and two Porsches.
With Mrs. Foisie's blessing, Mr. Foisie kept the corporations that owned the Legacy Golf & Tennis Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and the Haystack holdings. They agreed they wouldn't collect approximately $700,000 they had loaned to their son, Michael R. Foisie, though Mr. Foisie has since asserted the son actually owes him $11 million.
Michael Foisie, a former resident of Higganum who now lives in Lyndeborough, N.H., is a shareholder in Riverview Heights Development Inc., a company developing a high-end condominium complex on Laurel Hill Avenue in Norwich. The father and son sued each other over the development, although both suits have been withdrawn.
During the divorce mediation, Mrs. Foisie raised the possibility that her husband might have off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. He said he didn't, according to a summary of the mediation discussions in a letter to the couple from the mediator, attorney Eliot J. Nerenberg.
According to a court document, Mrs. Foisie learned of the account with the Schaffhauser Kantonal Bank, called "The Valduz Trust," when Mr. Foisie sought to participate in an IRS amnesty program for failing to report income derived from the offshore account. She claims he forged her name on an amended joint tax return.
In a Nevada lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court, Mrs. Foisie and two of their children, Michael Foisie and Lauren Foisie Glennon, claim that in March 2016, in retaliation for removing him as the manager of a family corporation, FK&G LLC, Mr. Foisie offered an East Boston man a $200,000 down payment to procure a hit man to kill his son.
"To my knowledge he has not criminally been charged, nor are we aware of any ongoing criminal investigations regarding any murder-for-hire plot in any jurisdiction," Coric said. "And frankly, I cannot imagine what would be his motivation to do something like that, given how well he's provided for his entire family."
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