This following story is based on the Jan. 18, 2013 indictment accusing Sharon Scanlon of Shelton of larceny and forgery against the city of Shelton.
Scanlon has since entered a plea of no contest to two felony counts and will be sentenced on Jan. 30. She faces three to seven years of jail time, plus five years of probation once she completes her jail sentence, based on a plea agreement.
It was on June 1, 2012 that Sharon Scanlon’s scheme began to unravel, according to her indictment.
Two Shelton Finance Department employees noticed a check for $7,825, made out to no one, on Scanlon’s desk that had been voided.
They wrote down the check number and later saw in bank records it had been made out to “Sharon Scanlon” but was listed as voided in the city’s check ledger, according to Scanlon’s indictment.
The employees then went to the city’s bank and requested copies of past checks, and found there were checks made out to Scanlon going back at least three years. These checks would be listed in documents as either being voided or payable to people other than Scanlon.
‘I never suspected Sharon’
“I never suspected Sharon for stealing from the city,” one of the employees told authorities, according to Scanlon’s indictment. “Sharon always talked of how she struggled with paying bills, such as her kids’ tuition. I have no idea what Sharon spent the money on.
“One thing that bothered me,” the employee continued, “is that I always wondered how our Accounting Department’s money never balanced on paper and at the end an adjustment would always be made without real justification.
“I never understood how past auditors never caught this and the audits would go through without a problem in this area,” the employee said.
Problem reported to Scanlon’s boss
The workers went to Finance Director Louis Marusic, who in turn contacted the city’s auditor, David Cappelletti of Woodbridge-based Levitsky and Vernery.
In August 2012, Shelton Police Department officials and the city auditor met with the State Police to tell them about what an audit had found.
According to Scanlon’s indictment, the audit discovered that Scanlon “was depositing checks that were made out to Scanlon from the city of Shelton totaling the approximate amount of $518,371 over the last five years.”
According to the indictment, the auditor told investigators that looking at records from the past three years, 26 voided checks with amounts from $6,000 to $10,000 were found to have been deposited in the personal bank account of Scanlon, via an ATM machine.
“The fraud was detected through the check log not agreeing to the general fund bank statements,” the auditor told law enforcement officials. “It occurred because the assistant finance director super-vented the controls by writing her own checks.
“Internal controls had worked,” the auditor continued, “in that all the information was available to perform a speedy and accurate investigation. However, the internal controls had failed in that it was not discovered in a timely manner.”
Search warrants, FBI involvement
Search warrants were issued and executed for the Accounting Department at City Hall, Scanlon’s home in Shelton, the city’s bank, and the bank Scanlon used for personal accounts.
Scanlon was at her home when it was searched by authorities, and declined to be interviewed by law enforcement at the time.
The FBI soon became involved in the matter as well as the State Police.
The investigation found that Scanlon would remove the original checks she cashed from city files “that would implicate her,” once they were received back from the bank, according to the indictment. But a search found she had “inadvertently missed several” of these original cashed checks.
In the check logs, Scanlon would list the checks she cashed as “voided checks and/or fictitious vendors,” and her initials were the ones written to indicate she had made the check log entry, according to her indictment.
Unusual amount of control
Both the city Finance Department employees who discovered the original voided check for $7,825 on Scanlon’s City Hall desk told investigators that Scanlon appeared to have an unusual amount of authority.
“Scanlon had control of almost everything in the Accounting Department,” one told law enforcement.
According to the indictment, both employees also said Scanlon did not get along well with her boss, Marusic, the finance director, and appeared to have a closer working relationship with Mayor Mark Lauretti than did Marusic.
Changes in the Finance Department
The city now has a new finance director, and the assistant finance director’s position once held by Scanlon remains vacant. She had stepped down from the position in August 2012.
Scanlon turned herself in to the State Police on Jan. 23. The indictment charged her with 56 counts of first-degree forgery and one count of first-degree larceny. It accused her of stealing $914,000 in city money over a decade, ending in July 2012.
In her plea agreement, she had pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree forgery and one count of first-degree larceny. The agreement covers the theft of $478,000 from 2008 to 2012.