ERIE, Pa. – A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled in favor of a millionaire car dealer who gave his now-ex wife a phony engagement ring.
Susan Porreco claimed her former husband, Louis Porreco, defrauded her by saying the ring contained a diamond worth $21,000 when it was really cubic zirconium worth far less. She claimed that voided their prenuptial agreement.
If the prenuptial agreement was voided, Susan Porreco said she would be owed more than $1 million if their marital assets were divided equally; equitable distribution is the standard in Pennsylvania divorce cases.
Instead, their agreement provided that Louis Porreco pay no more than $3,500 for each year of marriage. The couple married in August 1984 and divorced in May 1998. The dispute has delayed distribution of their marital assets.
The case has wound its way through the Pennsylvania courts for a decade, going to the state Supreme Court and being sent back to an Erie County judge.
The Superior Court panel's decision earlier this month reversed an Erie County judge's ruling that the prenuptial agreement was void.
The panel said Susan Porreco had the responsibility to determine the ring's value because the agreement listed it as her asset.
Louis Porreco maintains his ex-wife knew the ring was not real. He said she wanted a fake stone so she would not damage a diamond while tending her horses.
The ruling is "a decision that should have been rendered over 14 years ago," said Louis Porreco, 71. "I'm happy that it is over."
He has been remarried for nine years. Susan Porreco, 45, has not remarried. She declined comment when reached by The Associated Press on Monday.
In a precedent-setting decision earlier in the case, the Superior Court said each party in a prenuptial agreement must inform "oneself about one's own assets."
The panel reiterated that reasoning in the Feb. 8 decision, which also noted that Susan Porreco said she was going to sign the agreement and marry Louis Porreco no matter what the agreement said.
The agreement listed her premarital worth at $46,600 and his at $3.3 million.
Louis Porreco said he gave his ex-wife furniture and other items and $700,000 cash.
"She did not walk away a pauper," he said.