The town of Oxford can secure at least $150,000 worth of property owned by a former tax collector accused of stealing more than $670,000 from the town if it wins a civil lawsuit on file at Derby Superior Court.
A Superior Court judge on Monday made the decision to attach half of assets to a civil suit the town has filed against the 24-year town employee who resigned on June 2, six months after the town discovered missing money from the tax collector's office and Guillet admitted to taking $3,093, town officials said.
First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers said an investigation into the matter indicates Guillet stole much more, and therefore, the town has filed a civil lawsuit against the former elected official. Meanwhile, the state police Western District Major Crime Squad continues its investigation, which could take another four years to complete, per state law. No criminal charges had been filed against Guillet as of Tuesday.
On Monday, the judge held a closed door meeting in her chambers with attorneys representing both sides before deciding to attach half of the assets onwed by Guillet, whose 1,652-square-foot saltbox-style Colonial is assessed at $217,000, which is 70 percent of the fair market value of the property.
Monday was supposed to be an evidentiary hearing, but none of the witnesses at the meeting were able to testify.
First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers called the hearing a "step in the right direction."
"The action gives the town a measure of protection while the case proceeds," she said. "...It does not limit the town from going after additional assets or treble damages in this case."
The civil case has been continued to March 18.
A previous Oxford Patch story on this issue is pasted below. Links to other stories on this issue are attached.
The below was published on Oxford Patch on Jan. 13.
It has been exactly one year since former beloved Tax Collector Karen Guillet fell from grace after she admitted to stealing more than $3,000 from the town.
Since then, the town says it has learned she stole more, a lot more, and now it plans to present evidence to a judge that proves the claim.
On Feb. 7, a Superior Court judge will hear evidence at 2 p.m. that the Town of Oxford says will prove the former tax collector stole more than $670,000 between July 2003 and December 2009, according to the state of Connecticut Judicial Branch.
The town has filed a civil lawsuit against Guillet, a Democrat who served the town in the elected position for 24 years until she was placed on unpaid leave on Jan. 13, 2010. That's when the town says she admitted to stealing $3,093 from the tax office during questioning about claims from unnamed town employees. As evidence mounted against her, Guillet officially resigned on June 22.
Now the town wants to attach Guillet’s assets, including her home at 2 Douglas Drive, to the lawsuit in an attempt to recoup some of the $671,768 she is alleged to have stolen, according to the lawsuit. The house, a 1,652-square-foot saltbox-style Colonial, is assessed at $217,700, according to Vision Appraisal Technologies, a company contracted to perform the town’s revaluation of taxable property.
The civil lawsuit is separate from legal actions that could come from the case, which is being investigated by the Western District Major Crime Squad of the Connecticut State Police. Investigators have said it could take up to five years to complete an investigation, First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers said.
An ad hoc committee composed of Board of Finance member John P. Kiley, Jr., Town Hall Administrative Assistant Joseph Calabrese and Finance Director James Hliva investigated the claims against Guillet. Although the lawsuit does not state specifically how they believe Guillet stole money, it indicates that the committee does have solid proof that she did. The lawsuit is not clear about whether the investigation went back further than July 2003, nor does it include a response from Guillet.
Guillet has not responded to several requests for interviews.