The case against former Oxford tax collector Karen Guillet, who is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town, is slowly making its way through the court system. The case was continued Tuesday until Feb. 7 at Milford Superior Court.
Guillet, 62, of 2 Douglas Lane, was the elected tax collector at for 24 years until she resigned in 2010 amid allegations that she stole money from the town through an elaborate money floating, or lapping, scheme in which she took money from other tax accounts and shifted them to accounts she stole from to make it look like her daily cash batches were always balanced, investigators said. For that, she has been charged with seven felonies, including six counts of first-degree forgery and one count of first-degree larceny.
Guillet has entered a "pro-forma" not guilty plea. "Pro forma" is a Latin term for "as a matter of form." In court, it is a ruling made as a formality in order to move matters along, according to Nolo's plain-English law dictionary.
Town officials and state police say Guillet is the lone suspect in a multi-year embezzling scheme from the tax office. Guillet used the money on luxury items such as trips to casinos, hotels and spas; two dog walkers whom she paid $100 apiece a day; luxury cars; high-end clothes; expensive meals, and other amenities. She was turned in to town officials by assistant tax collector Sharon Scinto, who discovered there was missing money from the tax office at the end of 2009 and immediately told town leaders. Oxford officials say they immediately contacted the town's bank, Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan, and began the investigation right away. Once they felt they had enough probable cause - about six weeks later - town officials questioned Guillet, whom town officials say admitted to taking about $3,000 and later said she was "glad it was over," according to court documents. About six months after that, Guillet officially resigned. She was arrested on Nov. 30, 2011, after a two-year investigation by state police.
Officially, Guillet has been charged with stealing $243,902, although town officials say she took at least and probably more. The police investigation went back to 2006 because police said they discovered enough theft to charge her to the greatest extent of the law. However, former First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers says town officials have reason to believe the thefts went back to at least the year 2000.
The most serious charge Guillet faces - first-degree larceny - is a Class B felony punishable by between 1 and 20 years in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine. First-degree forgery is a Class C felony punishable by between 1 and 10 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine. Guillet is currently free after posting 10 percent of a $100,000 bond.
Oxford has also filed a in which the town looks to recoup the money that is alleged to be stolen. That suit is pending.