Court papers detail finances of man accused by his aunts of murdering his grandfatherBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 09. 2018 8:33PM
CONCORD — Nathan Carman, accused by his aunts of murder, received $360,000 following the death of his millionaire grandfather, according to documents unsealed last week in a probate court in Concord.
The amount — disclosed by Carman himself in a document ordered unsealed — is a fraction of what Carman stands to inherit following the 2013 shooting death of his grandfather John Chalakos in Connecticut and the 2016 disappearance and assumed death of his mother, Linda Carman, from a boat off the coast of Rhode Island.
Carman was the last person seen with his grandfather and mother. And while authorities have not brought criminal charges against him, he is embroiled in a civil suit brought by Chakalos’ surviving heirs who accuse him of murdering his grandfather and mother in order to receive millions in inheritance.
Last week, Probate Court Judge David King ordered a host of documents unsealed in the high-profile case. He partially redacted another document before releasing it. And he held off on releasing an affidavit written by Connecticut police who are investigating the Chakalos murder.
King unsealed the records in response to a request last month by the New Hampshire Union Leader and the New England First Amendment Coalition.
Ever since filing suit, the family had sought to keep certain papers, including the trust documents, exempt from public disclosure.
“It’s a victory, no doubt about it,” said attorney Gregory Sullivan, a First Amendment legal expert who filed to unseal the documents. “We’re pleased with the court’s decision and the judge’s recognition of the long tradition in New Hampshire of openness of court filings.”
Estate of $19.59 million
The net value of the Chakalos estate was reported at $19.59 million according to a filing made two years ago at a probate court in Cheshire County.
One of the documents unsealed was a five-page response that Carman gave to lawyers who are demanding information from Carman in the normal process of pretrial written questioning. Specifically, they asked him to detail the “financial benefits” he received from his grandfather’s death.
Carman listed a $200,000 Fidelity Investments checking account and a $160,000 American Funds qualified tuition plan. Carman said he planned to attend Keene State College in 2014, but opted to stay in Connecticut and attend Central Connecticut State University after Chakalos’ death.
“I did not receive financial benefit from my grandfather’s death because the loss of the on-going financial support which I received from my grandfather while he was alive more than offset the value of the ‘financial benefits’ I received as a result of my grandfather’s death,” he wrote.
According to previous disclosures, Chakalos paid Carman $100,000 a year in support, paid his grandson’s cellphone and credit card bills, and purchased a house for him in Vermont that is now on the market for $149,000.
Less certain, according to the ruling, is whether Carman is currently receiving benefits under the Nathan Carman Family Trust. One of the estate’s heirs — Chakalos’ daughter Valerie Santilli — apparently has control of that trust.
In a 36-page ruling, King addressed many legal issues, including the Union Leader’s request to unseal material:
• A risk warrant affidavit written by Connecticut police will be provisionally sealed until the next hearing in the case “in an abundance of caution,” King wrote. Connecticut police drew up the warrant and affidavit to seize firearms from Carman’s Connecticut apartment. At the next hearing, King will consider whether to make the affidavit public. Carman actually submitted the affidavit in response to interrogatories. That hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 21.
• Lawyers for the heirs wanted Carman to provide receipts for gun purchases he was believed to have made in New Hampshire, as well as receipts for use of a firing range. Carman has refused, claiming a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In addressing the issue, King redacts several sentences from the order, which appear to quote the affidavit. King ruled that Carman does not have to produce receipts.
• Carman must disclose any alterations he made to his boat, the Chicken Pox, and what safety and emergency equipment were on board in September 2016 when he took his mother ocean fishing. He has said the boat sank, he got on a life raft and his mother did not make it. “It is clear from the proceedings before this court that whether Mr. Carman purposefully caused the death of his mother in order to receive the benefit of his mother’s inheritance from her father may become an integral part of their proof at trial,” King wrote.
• Carman does not have to answer questions about whether he possessed an electronic device that would include calendar and diary functions.
• Carman should turn over his tax returns, credit card bills, cell phone records if he has any. But King noted that Carman has said in court that he did not file income tax returns from 2012 to 2016 because money from Chakalos amounted to gifts. And Chakalos held the phone and credit card accounts for Carman in his name, Carman has said.
• Carman does not have to provide information about New Hampshire driver licenses and automobile registration. He also does not have to detail all his visits or business activities in the Granite State.
• Carman must provide emails and texts between himself and Chakalos between 2011 and 2013.
• King said it is not “readily apparent” why the sisters want to keep the trust documents under seal. The heirs argued in court pleadings that a media frenzy would make it uncomfortable for the people who are named in the documents.
However, the parties listed in the trust documents are the daughters of Chakalos — Santilli, Elaine Chakalos and Charlene Gallagher — are listed as plaintiffs in the case against Carman, along with their spouses. King pointed out and they are not subject to the criminal investigation.
The trust documents include a carve-out for Santilli, who is also the executrix of the estate. Chakalos bequeathed her a $1.04 million condominium at Hampton Beach, which is adjacent to one that she and her husband own outright.