By Ed Harris
A Hartford Superior Court Judge has ruled that longtime caretaker Samuel Manzo is the rightful heir to the Smoron estate.
Valley Spring Farm was owned by the Smoron family for decades and ownership has been in dispute since the death of Josephine Smoron in 2009.
In the 1990s, Josephine Smoron had a dispute with her brother, Stanley Smoron, about the future of the farm. He intended to will the land to local churches, but Josephine Smoron intended it to remain as farmland. She prevailed in the dispute and would go on to change her will to designate Manzo, a longtime farm caretaker, “absolutely and forever” as heir to the land.
More trouble started when local attorney John Nugent, a court appointed conservator, created two trusts, claiming that the land was “relinquished” to three churches – The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Southington, the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in New Britain, and the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, also in New Britain. There was a plan to sell the land to developer Carl Verderame Jr. for the construction of a hockey rink, with the proceeds going to the churches.
The trusts were approved by former Southington probate judge Bryan Meccariello. Meccariello was censured for the handling of the estate in 2010.
“There is no question that the trusts are inconsistent with Ms. Smoron’s 2004 will and even her 1996 will,” Judge William Bright said in his decision.
Last June, the Statewide Grievance Committee ruled that Nugent violated ethic laws in his handling of the Josephine Smoron estate. The committee oversees the conduct of state lawyers.
“The trusts should have been denied,” Bright said. “Truth be told, it probably should have never been filed.”