Update 9:48 a.m., Thursday:
According to Norwalk police, Michael Barbis was charged with breach of peace in connection with an incident that occurred at the Rio Border Cafe at 330 Connecticut Ave.
Original article, Wednesday:
Michael Barbis, running for the Norwalk Board of Education this year, was charged in a misdemeanor domestic violence case last November that resulted in his being referred to the state Family Violence Education Program.
Barbis, 49, a real estate agent who has also built homes, has been a defendant in civil court over the past year as well. A judge had ordered his home at 29 Pine Point Road foreclosed over an alleged failure to pay his mortgage to creditors, who said he owed $161,244 in principal and interest on the loan, although he was able to work out a new payment schedule after the judgment and get the foreclosure suit withdrawn.
He faces a second foreclosure lawsuit filed by the Rowayton Woods Condominium Association, located in a condominium development just north of Rowayton. That suit involves an alleged failure to pay $1,227.17 in association fees and "encumbrances" for a garage.
"I don't want to talk to you," Barbis told Patch late Tuesday afternoon. Barbis was informed that after this article was published he is still welcome to ask for an interview or comment at the bottom of this story about his legal situations.
A leader in Rowayton
Barbis is not only a candidate—he's also an office holder, having been one of three members of the Sixth Taxing District since 2005. He is a lieutenant in the and the treasurer of that organization. He's also a commodore at the .
In the past, he's been president of the , co-chairman of the No Thru Trucks Committee, which got a ban on trucks on Route 136 through Rowayton, and president of the Rowayton Civic Association. He was a judge at last Saturday's Rowayton Historical Society's Chili Throwdown contest.
Barbis is a graduate of Rosemary Choate Hall, the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School.
He currently works as a real estate agent at Prudential Connecticut Realty's office in Darien. On the Prudential Connecticut website, Barbis says that he has been "amongst the top 1% of Prudential's agents nationwide and have won the Chairman's Circle Diamond ranking."
The Connecticut Judicial Branch website refers to Barbis' breach of peace case in state Superior Court in Norwalk as well as both foreclosure cases in state Superior Court in Stamford, but the website gives out very few details of either. The Clerk's Office in Norwalk court has hardly any details about the circumstances surrounding the criminal charge.
Family violence case
Barbis was given a summons to appear in Norwalk court at 9:32 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2010. The summons is labeled "DOMESTIC CASE," and Barbis was ordered to appear in court the next morning. He was not arrested or held on any bond.
At Barbis' first court appearance on Nov. 19, Judge Maureen Dennis issued an order of protection for a child of Barbis. The judge also issued an additional order of protection for a family member with an otherwise unspecified relationship to him. Neither order told Barbis he needed to stay away from the other parties, although that was an option available to the judge.
On each "Order of Protection" form, two boxes were checked off, one of which indicated he must give up any firearms he may own. The other stated: "Do not assault, threaten, abuse, harass, follow, interfere with or stalk the protected person."
The orders of protection are indefinite until "further order of the court."
On March 1, 2011, Attorney Phillip Cohn of Norwalk filed notice with the court that he was representing Barbis. The next day Barbis applied to enter the Family Violence Education Program run by the Family Violence Intervention Unit of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.
The application form for the program includes the standard statement: "I also request if this application for family violence education is granted, that, upon my successful completion of the program and compliance with all conditions imposed by the court, the court dismiss the charges against me."
On April 4, 2011, Judge Jack L. Grogins, who normally sits in Norwalk Housing Court, approved Barbis for the program and gave him a new court date of Oct. 3, 2012—which at that point was 18 months into the future.
Foreclosure case on a garage at Rowayton Woods
On Dec. 14, 2010, a lawyer for the Rowayton Woods Condominium Association began foreclosure procedings in state Superior Court in Stamford on Barbis' garage at the condominium complex off of Highland Avenue.
According to court documents filed by the association's lawyer on March 17, 2011, Barbis owed the association (as of March 20, 2011) $642.53 in "updated debt" and $584.64 in encumbrances, for a total of $1,227.17.
To that was added $350 for an appraisal in anticipation of a foreclosure sale of the garage (which the appraiser estimated was worth $20,000), along with $2,200 in fees for the association's attorney and $225 for a title search. The total amount sought from Barbis: $3,652.17.
Barbis did not file a response to the lawsuit, nor did any attorney do so on his behalf, according to court records. A motion for a default judgment for failure to appear was filed by the association's lawyer and granted by a clerk in February, but nothing further has happened with the case in court since March.
Foreclosure case on Barbis' home
On April 14, the holders of the mortgage on Barbis' home at 29 Pine Point Rd. filed a foreclosure case against him in Stamford. The mortgage owners, Ocean View Capital Corp. of Purchase, NY and Capital One, N.A., alleged that Barbis had stopped paying his mortgage on Nov. 1, 2009.
Barbis had originally borrowed $825,000 on July 18, 2008. According to a court document filed in the case, a federal tax lien was placed on the property for $1.1 million on Aug. 10, 2010. An appraiser hired by Ocean View estimated that the home is worth $1.44 million.
On May 16, Ocean View Capital's lawyer, David L. Weiss of East Haven, filed a motion for a default judgment in favor of his clients for failure by Barbis to disclose his defense. The order was granted by Judge Douglas Mintz on June 1, and further orders to sell the home were made on July 25.
A sale date was set for Sept. 17, but two days before, Weiss filed a new motion to withdraw the foreclosure case. Weiss told the court that Barbis had worked out an agreement to pay the money owed, along with all of the other money spent by the mortgage holders on the court case.
Correction: Michael Barbis was not arrested, as the original headline and top "description" paragraph originally stated. He was issued a summons (similar to a traffic ticket), as the article has stated.
Editor's note: As of 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, minor wording changes have been made to this article. The time stamp was changed from 5:54 a.m. for layout purposes on the Norwalk Patch homepage.