Former Oxford tax collector Karen Guillet will not see a dime of her pension after pleading guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town.
Attorney General George Jepsen announced through a news release Wednesday that Guillet has signed a stipulation for judgment agreeing to the revocation of her pension. Upon approval of the court, her entire pension benefits will be revoked. Her projected pension benefit is $1,814.33 monthly – $21,771.96 annually, the news release states.
“Theft from a municipality or the state is a serious violation of the public trust,” Jepsen states in the news release. “In 2008, the General Assembly saw fit to give the state attorney general the authority to seek a pension revocation or reduction from a state or municipal official convicted of a crime in connection with their public position. In this case, we have applied that law appropriately, this pension will be revoked and taxpayers will not be responsible for the pension of someone guilty of stealing taxpayer funds.”
Guillet, 62, who was the elected tax collect in Oxford from December 1984 to January 2010, has agreed to a court order that pension contributions she paid into the pension fund, without interest, will be applied to any restitution order entered in her pending criminal matter. That amount totals $19,198.66, the release states.
Guillet has pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, a Class B felony, for stealing $242,903 from the town, although some estimates suggest she stole at least $670,000. She has entered into a plea bargain agreement that calls for 12 years in prison, suspended after she serves five. It also states that she must pay back that amount.
She was arrested in late 2011; according to the state police arrest warrant, she stole money from the town while serving as tax collector to pay for purchases at high-end retail stores, spa treatments and a dog walker, among other things. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 29 in her criminal case.
Under state statute enacted in 2008, the Attorney General is authorized to initiate a civil action seeking reduction or revocation of the pension of any state or municipal official who, in state or federal court, is convicted of or pleads guilty to a crime related to their state or municipal office on or after October 1, 2008.
Any state or municipal official convicted on corruption-related charges – defined specifically in the law as embezzling public funds; committing felony theft from the state; bribery in connection with one’s service as a state or municipal employee; or committing a felony with intent to defraud in order to obtain a profit, gain or advantage for themselves or someone else – could face court action to reduce or revoke their pension.
Guillet's defense attorney, Dominick Thomas of Derby, said the pension revocation "has always been part and parcel to the discussion about restitution."
Oxford First Selectman George Temple said taking away the pension is "the least you can do."
"To date they have done nothing to try to pay down the debt that the court found in the criminal case, and I assure you the civil case will be much higher," he said. "We intend to get every penny back that we can."