Fiance left house, took everything - grand larceny?


#1

My friend recently broke up a relationship where he and his fiance lived in a 3700 sf home they leased. They were together less than a year, but in that time had gotten joint bank accounts, joint cell accounts and he took over $13,000 out of his personal retirement account to deposit in their joint account and then spend to furnish the home. He gave her his late mother’s engagement ring and signed a sailboat over to her as his divorce from first wife was not final and he wanted to retain the sailboat.

Now that they have split, the ex fiance cleaned the ENTIRE house out (he left for a couple weeks to stay with friends to give her time to move) including all of his late mother’s jewelry, all furniture - not one ottoman left. She also cleaned out the joint bank account as soon as his paycheck was direct deposited (almost $3000) and did not pay any joint bills. She says she is suing him for $10,000 worth of moving expenses, breach of contract (because he didn’t marry her) and her half of the remainder of 2.5 years of a $2000 a month lease. She also offered to sell his boat back to him but if he didn’t respond in time she had a buyer.

What should his next step be to recover stolen property? He called the police when he discovered all of his items were missing, they went to her brother’s where she is staying and she said she didn’t know what jewelry he was talking about and all the furniture was hers.

He has a bill of sale from the furniture store with his name alone, a copy of the retirement check he deposited into the direct account and his mother’s will giving him her ring and jewelry. The cops told him to pursue it as a civil matter. But because this is in excess of $20,000, would it not be criminal and would those who assisted in moving not also be liable with the knowledge that was his stuff? He realizes that legally he probably has no recourse with his sailboat because he signed it over.

Thank you in advance.


#2

** not an attorney **

Sounds like he’s not making smart decisions. Signing over the boat to another woman to avoid splitting it in his divorce was stupid (and sleezy). The boat is not his anymore. Karma is funny that way.

As for the ring, it depends. Normally in NC, the ring goes back to the giver if an engagement is broken (and fault does not matter). Was he legally divorced at the time he gave her the ring? It sounds like he was still getting divorced since he signed the boat over to the new woman. If his divorce wasn’t finalized when he gave the new girl the ring, she can keep it. An engagement is not legal if you are still married to someone else. In this case, the ring is considered a gift and not an engagement ring. Also, if he gave it to her for her bday, christmas, or valentine’s day, that can affect who owns the ring as well. In these cases it can be seen as a gift.

Sounds like he didn’t behave very well here…hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, and all…sounds like she’s rightfully angry at what this relationship cost her in terms of moving expenses and the lease. She’s trying to recover some of her losses. Not sure how sympathetic a court would be if he called off the engagement or cheated. He’s already not looking very admirable by signing over the boat to avoid splitting it with his ex. I think what goes around comes around…