A former secretary to the director of the has been accused of embezzling just over $5,000 from the agency and now faces a felony larceny charge in Superior Court in Vernon.
Maria Remy, 44, of 154 Hnath Road, in Ashford, is free on a $500 non-surety bond pending her arraignment in court in Rockville on June 7. She is charged with first-degree larceny.
According to the warrant for Remy’s arrest, it was the town of Mansfield’s finance department which provides centralized financial management services for the health district that “noticed some irregularities” in the expense reports that Remy had submitted to the finance office.
The health district's main office is in Mansfield Town Hall at 4 South Eagleville Road.
Trooper Matthew Benzie of Tolland Barracks who handled the investigation said in a sworn statement that he met with district health director Robert L. Miller on March 31 and that Miller informed him about “an employee theft.”
Miller told Benzie that Cherie A. Trahan, Mansfield’s director of finance, “informed him that there was a problem with one of his employees,” Remy.
An internal investigation by the town finance department determined the total loss from Remy’s actions was $5,169, according to the warrant for Remy’s arrest.
According to Benzie, Miller had met with Alicia Ducharme, a budget analyst with the town finance department in early March and that she told him that it appeared the financial paperwork submitted in February by Remy had been altered, Benzie said.
Ducharme showed Miller several receipts that Remy had submitted “that were obviously altered,” Benzie said. The receipts involved instances where the health district’s purchasing card was used for personal purchases, Benzie said. Though the receipts had been altered, the purchasing cards used by the town give the town the ability to identify “what exactly was purchased through certain vendors,” Ducharme told the investigator. Ducharme said one receipt that showed Remy had purchased “two Sterilite storage boxes” for $63 was actually for “two T-shirts from Café Press through Amazon.com.” Durcharme said the internal audit found Remy had submitted 20 altered receipts and 22 that totaled $1,051 were never handed in.
Ducharme also told Benzie that Remy “was collecting money from petty cash” in the town clerk’s office. Ducharme said Remy had “altered or handed in duplicate receipts to the Town Clerk’s office and received a total of $2,949.59 cash back.”
Miller and Trahan had met with Remy on March 3 and questioned her about the discrepancies and it was at that time that Remy “finally said that she had screwed up,” Benzie wrote. Remy was placed on paid administrative leave pending a termination hearing and had to surrender her office keys, identification card and the district’s purchasing card she’d held.
An hour after she left that day, according to Miller, Remy sent Miller an email in which she said she “was willing to fix it among other things,” Benzie said.
Benzie said he met with Remy in the parking lot of Margarita’s Steak House on Route 32 in Mansfield the morning of April 6 at which time she gave him a written statement. In it she stated, according to Benzie, “she accidentally made a purchase onto the town’s purchasing card… she was not sure how many times it happened… Remy reports that she is sorry for what she has done … She reports that she just wants to pay back the money she took and be done with it.”
Benzie noted that Remy, who was arrested by warrant on May 7, had sent multiple emails to Miller after she was placed on administrative leave. “She continues to write that she was sorry, wants to fix it and is embarrassed about the whole thing.”
In an email dated March 15, Remy told Miller that “she is withdrawing from her 401K in order to give money back from the purchasing card…. In a second email dated 3/15/11 … Again Remy states that she is sorry.”
Remy, who could not be reached for comment, is being represented by Attorney Jerome W. Paun in Willimantic. A woman who answered the phone at Paun’s office Monday afternoon said: “We have no comment!” She then hung up.
According to Connecticut General Statutes, a person may be charged with first-degree larceny in instances of extortion, or when the value of stolen property or service exceeds $10,000 or when what’s stolen from “a public community” exceeds $2,000. Conviction carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The health district, which was established in 1997, comprises Andover, Ashford, Bolton, Chaplin, Columbia, Coventry, Mansfield, Scotland, Tolland and Willington. It serves roughly 80,000 residents within a 200-square-mile area.