Mayor: New staff coming in to oversee Finance Department

Mayor Mark Lauretti said Friday morning that the city will be bringing in new people next week to help oversee the city finance department.

“On Tuesday we’ll be bringing someone in to help with accounting,” Lauretti said. “By the end of the week we’ll look at bringing in a more senior person.”

Assistant Finance Director Sharon Scanlon resigned last week in connection with the criminal investigation into stolen public money, the city said. Lauretti was still hesitant about saying how much was allegedly stolen but he said it exceeds $300,000.

“I think that number will change,” he said.

The alleged theft goes back as far as 2009, the mayor said.

In a prepared statement last Friday, Lauretti said that Finance Director Louis Marusic was not involved in the investigation but had been placed on administrative leave.. When asked if Marusic will be returning to work, the mayor said he didn’t want to comment.

City auditors and the mayor have been overseeing the department with remaining staff members.

The city is pursuing several avenues to get back the money back as the criminal investigation continues, including filing a civil suit against Scanlon and possibly putting a lien on her property.

“We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to make the city whole,” Lauretti said. “We’re going to pursue every avenue, there are three or four.”

The mayor isn’t ruling out a forensic audit.

“I’m not sure we need it but we won’t rule it out,” he said. “This is going to take a while to unfold.

“Whether people believe it or not there are checks and balances in place and obviously there was a failure along the way but one of the checks and balances picked up on,” the mayor said. “The city is still financially solvent.”

Board of Alderman President John Anglace said the news of the alleged theft was shocking.

“Sharon was a trusted employee who, from my perspective, seemed like a very competent person who could get the job done,” Anglace said. “I never suspected any wrongdoing.”

Anglace said the city’s main goal is restitution and moving forward with the coming referendum and charter revisions.

“We’ve got a lot of things going on, with the charter, the fire department, the animal shelter,” Anglace said. “We have to get things moving and keep them moving in a positive direction.”