A judge decided Friday that Steven Gagne can sell the equipment of Bristol Beat, his defunct internet radio station. But he must put aside the money for a possible judgment in a court case against him and his wife, former city council member Jodi Zils-Gagne, according to an agreement between lawyers on both sides of the dispute.
The case became part of the most contentious local election cycle in at least a decade. The case has divided the local Republican party between supporters of Zils-Gagne and allies of former Mayor Ken Cockayne.
Neither Zils-Gagne nor her husband appeared at the hearing in Superior Court in New Britain, but both signed the agreement.
The current conservator for a 91-year-old city resident is suing the couple and the radio station, claiming Zils-Gagne mishandled the man’s money while she served as his conservator. The suit seeks $113,000 and contends that Zils-Gagne lent more than half of it to Bristol Beat without notifying the probate court that her husband owned the business.
A probate judge removed Zils-Gagne as the conservator, and appointed Stephen Mangan in her place. Mangan filed the suit in October.
Cockayne has been involved in a prolonged social media quarrel with Zils-Gagne and her husband, and she accused him in October of spreading news about the lawsuit to discredit her. She and Cockayne, who are second cousins, were running together for re-election in November, but both lost.
Soon after the election, Gagne announced that he was closing Bristol Beat, a business he’d started in the spring of 2016. He announced on Facebook that he sell the assets, and offered the entire operation for about $38,000.
Michael F. Romano, the attorney representing Mangan, immediately filed for an emergency injunction.
“We found out through social media that Mr. Gagne was disposing of the assets — we were a little nervous that all of a sudden he was doing this,” Romano told Judge Robert Young on Friday.
Romano asked to amend the injunction, however, saying he had reached an agreement with Gagne and attorney Bradley Smolkin, who represents Zils-Gagne. Young ordered the modified injunction, which allows Gagne to sell assets but only with written approval from Romano. In addition, Gagne can keep only 10 percent of the proceeds, and put the rest in escrow in case the lawsuit against him and his wife results in a judgment.
Smolkin did not comment after the brief hearing. Romano said he and Mangan want the equipment liquidated in case of a judgment in favor of Emil Jabs, the 91-year-old resident.
“We are trusting the system will effect justice and protect the interests of Mr. Jabs,” Romano said.