Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen wants to revoke or reduce the amount of retirement pension money felonious former Oxford Tax Collector Karen Guillet is entitled to.
The AG filed the lawsuit Monday in Hartford Superior Court against Guillet, 62, who will be sentenced in two weeks (Oct. 29) to up to five years served in a state prison. She has pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, a Class B felony, for stealing $242,903 from the town. She has entered into a plea bargain agreement that states she must pay back that amount.
The town has already tried to take away Guillet's pension, but that was denied by Superior Court Judge Arthur A. Hiller, who said in an April 2011 ruling that federal law prohibits the town from taking Guillet's pensions. However, a Connecticut law enacted after former Gov. John Rowland went to prison for corruption charges allows for a public official's pension to be revoked if he or she is convicted of a crime that is tied to his or her public position.
It is unclear exactly how much Guillet, a 24-year town employee, has in pension funds. The town attempted to take two 457(b) plans, the public sector equivalent to 401(k) retirement accounts, that were worth $145,398 and $14,900, respectively.
The town learned about missing money after an employee in the tax office went to former First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers in December 2009 with concerns about checks found in the tax office that had not been deposited into the town’s bank account at Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan. Town officials immediately began investigating, and Drayton-Rogers said she confronted Guillet about $3,093 that had not been deposited properly. Drayton-Rogers testified in court that Guillet admitted to stealing that check. That’s when Drayton-Rogers put Guillet on unpaid administrative leave – she later resigned – and contacted state police.
Once news broke about the case, the town began hearing complaints from residents who said they had received delinquent notices for taxes even though they had proof they had paid. Those claims totaled $671,768 when the town filed a civil lawsuit against Guillet in December 2010; more complaints have since been filed and that number is closer to $680,000, municipal Finance Director James Hliva said.