Finance investigation: Scanlon told staff she 'struggled' with bills

Those who worked with Assistant Finance Director Sharon Scanlon didn’t expect her to be stealing from the city, according to a police affidavit, but it was her staff that discovered a suspicious voided check on Scanlon’s desk, setting an investigation in motion.

State Police say that Scanlon stole about $914,000 in city money, over an 11 year period. Scanlon, who resigned in August after the city alleged she stole money, turned herself in to State Police Jan. 23 and was charged with first-degree larceny and 56 counts of forgery.

She appeared briefly in court Tuesday and will be back in court Feb. 26. A affidavit, written by State Police Trooper Shawn Sequiera reveals details of the investigation.

“Sharon always talked of how she struggled with paying bills such as her  kid’s college tuition,” one accounting clerk told investigators. “I have no idea what Scanlon spent that money on.”

According to the affidavit, In June, two clerks in the finance office first discovered a canceled check in the amount of $7,825 on Scanlon’s desk and researched the check, finding it was made out to Sharon Scanlon but listed as voided. The two did more research regarding the alleged fraud and delivered the information to then Finance Director Louis Marusic, who a clerk described as someone that was “honest as they could come.”

Marusic turned the information over the a city auditor, who gathered three years of incriminating information, with help of the clerks, and turned it over to the mayor.

According to statements given to police, those who worked with Scanlon said she was a good, laid-back boss and that she had a great relationship with Mayor Mark Lauretti. One clerk told investigators that the mayor often called Scanlon instead of the finance director to discuss issues regarding the accounting department. The employee also said Scanlon had control of “almost everything” in the accounting department.

It didn’t appear that Scanlon was living an extravagant life, and complained about bills, employees said, though one recalled hearing she had purchased an expensive camper and truck for family vacations.

During the course of the investigations, authorities searched the city finance office as well as Scanlon’s home.

“[The] Majority of the checks the accused drafted she falsely recorded as voided or as a fictitious name in the manual check log records retained by city hall,” the affidavit said. “In actuality the accused deposited the checks by ATM.”

Sequiera wrote that Scanlon took about $914,153 from the city beginning in 2001 and ending in July 2012.

Scanlon’s attorney William Dow III said recentl that his client plans to plead not guilty and has the support of her friends and family. Dow said she is “well thought of” in the community.

Marusic has since retired as finance director and the department in now run by Paul Hiller. Mayor Lauretti has said changes has been made in the department, in an effort to prevent a similar incident.