A Bristol woman who served as the treasurer of the Connecticut Tax Collectors Association has been arrested, accused of embezzling more than $50,000 from the organization.
Bristol Police started investigating on June 11, when a representative of the Connecticut Tax Collectors Association contacted them about suspicions that the treasurer, Debra Guerrette, 55, of Bristol, misappropriated funds from the association accounts into her personal accounts without permission.
Guerrette served as revenue collector of Plainville and had been the treasurer of the state tax collectors' association since 2006.
The Plainville town manager told the Plainville Observer in June that Guerrette had been placed on leave as Plainville's town tax collector after Bristol police told him about the criminal investigation.
"It's an unfortunate situation," said Plainville Town Manager Robert Lee. "She was a 30-year employee and this came as a complete surprise."
Police analyzed the Connecticut Tax Collectors Association’s financial records and determined that Guerrette misappropriated more than $50,000 into her personal account from 2008 through 2013, police said.
The tax collector's organization released a statement in June saying Guerrette resigned on June 10 after admitting to having misappropriated the funds.
“This has been one of the most difficult challenges we’ve had to face,” said Cinda Buchter, president of the Connecticut Tax Collector's Association, in a statement. “The Association feels betrayed by one of our own, both a colleague and a friend.”
The focus of the Connecticut Tax Collectors Association is to promote professionalism among tax collectors and promote compliance with state law.
Town officials have hired a forensic accountant to review the books. It will cost taxpayers $15,000, but Lee said it's a worthwhile investment.
"Just because of the nature of the offense... we thought it was prudent to check our own books," Lee explained. So far, the accountant has pored over three years of records and have found no other issues.
Guerrette was charged with one count of larceny in the first degree and held on $25,000 bond pending court.