The amount of money former tax collector is accused of stealing is already high, and now town officials are speculating that it could be even more.
First Selectman George Temple said Monday he has good reason to believe Guillet may have stolen more than the $671,768 that she is alleged to have stolen in a civil lawsuit the town has filed against her. Just how much more could have been taken is what Temple wants to know.
“My feeling is the town deserves to have an exact figure as to what the number is,” he said.
Temple said Monday he wants to involve the state’s attorney in the investigation and prosecution into Guillet, whom the town has accused of stealing the $671,768 between July 2003 and December 2009. Temple and other town officials met in closed-door, executive session at Monday with attorney Fran Teodosio, who represents the town in its civil suit against Guillet. Town officials wanted to get an update about where the civil suit stands. Following the meeting, Temple told reporters the town is not considering an out-of-court settlement and, in fact, plans to get more aggressive in its approach to the case. Specifically, he said, the town will aggressively seek more information for the evidence discovery process and will attempt to learn more about the exact amount Guillet allegedly stole.
Town officials have long speculated that the number may be more than $671,768, but they now firmly believe they are right because of a new that officials recently pulled together and released to the public last week. That list shows about 2,000 people who have a delinquency attached to their files at Town Hall, however town officials say there are hundreds whose names don’t belong on that list. The reason is because Guillet, who was tax collector here for 24 years, did not credit people’s accounts even though they paid so she could hide her embezzlement scheme, town officials say. Therefore, several people’s accounts show they have unpaid balances even though they paid their fair share.
Since that list was announced a week ago, hundreds of people have flooded the new tax collector’s office with visits, phone calls and other correspondence. Some are angry and many just want this issue cleared up, Tax Collector Cayenne Spremullo said. The town is trying to do that, she said.
The list shows delinquencies going back 15 years – the longest the town can go back, per state statute – and it totals $10.3 million. Temple believes the actual number of delinquencies should be much lower; about 150 people have already showed they should not owe anything to the town even though their names are on that list.
Town officials now have another challenge ahead of them: figuring out what to do with people whose names are shown on the list as owing taxes but do not have any proof because it was so long ago. Temple said he plans to discuss how to resolve that issue with Town Attorney Kevin Condon.
Meanwhile, Guillet is facing charges in two separate court cases: one criminal and one civil. In a criminal case, she is accused by state police of stealing $243,902, although the criminal investigation only went back to 2006 because police said they discovered enough theft in that time to charge Guillet to the full extent of the law.
Guillet has been charged with seven felonies, including six counts of first-degree forgery and one count of first-degree larceny.
First-degree larceny, the most serious charge, 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.
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. Guillet is due back in court on March 15 for the criminal case.
The town's civil case against Guillet is temporarily on hold while attorneys from both sides review details of the case. Currently, there are no events scheduled for that case, according to the state Judicial Branch's website.
Editor’s Note: The sign in the photo attached to this article was submitted by a reader. It was placed on property on Good Hill Road and happens to be near former First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Roger’s house. Clearly, the sign shows some of the frustration people have with the delinquent tax list that was released last week; it questions why former tax collector Karen Guillet’s name was not on list of delinquent taxpayers.