After arrests, CT tried to revoke or reduce pensions for these former public employees

Bridgeport’s former police chief and personnel director were each sentenced last week for their involvement in a cheating scandal that authorities say helped land Armando Perez the top cop position in the state’s largest city.

Their state pensions are now among the more than two dozen pending and closed cases the Connecticut Attorney General’s office has pursued under a 2008 law.

Perez and Bridgeport’s former personnel director David Dunn are expected to serve their terms in minimum security prisons.

The two men — like other Connecticut public employees — could see their pensions revoked due to a state statute that went into effect Oct. 1, 2008. The state has since sought to reduce or revoke the pensions of 26 people, including Perez and Dunn, according to data obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media from the attorney general’s office.

The state statute gives the attorney general authority to launch civil action against any state or municipal employee who, in state or federal court, is convicted of or pleads guilty to a crime related to their job.

Here are the pending and closed pension cases:

Armando Perez
Former Bridgeport police chief

Former Police Chief Armando Perez makes a statement in front of the Federal Courthouse in Bridgeport, Conn., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

Former Police Chief Armando Perez makes a statement in front of the Federal Courthouse in Bridgeport, Conn., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Former Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez was accused by federal prosecutors of cheating on the city’s 2018 police chief exam, and then lying about it to the FBI during its investigation.

Perez was awarded the five-year-contract to serve as the city’s top-cop. In September 2020, Perez and former Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn were both charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and lying to the FBI in connection with the scheme, which investigators said included having two members of the force provide Perez with a scoring guide and prep answers for him. Perez resigned days after the federal charges were announced. He pleaded guilty in October 2020 and was sentenced last week to 12 months and one day in prison.

Attorney General William Tong’s office has filed a civil complaint, arguing Perez’s pension should be revoked or reduced as a result of his conviction. Perez’s attorney noted the pension was accrued over 33 years of service before he became chief, and the crimes did not cause his pension to increase. The attorney general’s office signaled in a court filing this month it plans to take the case to a court trial.

David Dunn
Former Bridgeport personnel director

Former Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn leaves the United States Court House Federal Building in downtown Bridgeport, Conn., on Tuesday April 13, 2021. Dunn arrived for sentencing for his involvement in the police chief cheating scandal.

Former Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn leaves the United States Court House Federal Building in downtown Bridgeport, Conn., on Tuesday April 13, 2021. Dunn arrived for sentencing for his involvement in the police chief cheating scandal.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

David Dunn, former personnel director for Bridgeport, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit and lying to the FBI alongside Perez last September as part of a scheme to rig the 2018 police chief exam. Like Perez, Dunn pleaded guilty last October. In a sentencing memo, Dunn claimed he realized Perez had a disadvantage in the police chief exam and sought to help him cheat out of loyalty.

The attorney general’s office filed a complaint seeking the reduction or revocation of Dunn’s pension in early December last year. In his defense, Dunn’s attorney said in a court filing his client had already paid restitution to the city, and he “voluntarily provided information to law enforcement” about a municipal employee who had a “greater degree of culpability.” Tong’s office has said through another court filing this month it intends to pursue a court trial.

Daniel Lion
Former New Haven accounting department employee

Daniel Lion, center, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U S. District Court for embezzling more than $100,000 from the city of New Haven.

Daniel Lion, center, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U S. District Court for embezzling more than $100,000 from the city of New Haven.

File photo

Daniel Lion, a former employee in the city of New Haven’s accounting department, was sentenced to nine months in prison in 2019 after authorities said he embezzled more than $100,000 from the city. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The state attorney general’s office filed court documents seeking to revoke or reduce Lion’s pension in February. The case remains pending. A status conference has been scheduled for May 7, and a trial date is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2022.

Eddie Perez
Former Hartford mayor

Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez on Jan. 5, 2015.

Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez on Jan. 5, 2015.

Cloe Poisson / TNS

Eddie Perez, former mayor of Hartford, was accused of having a city contractor do $40,000 in work at his home in 2005, and didn’t pay for it until 2007 when confronted by investigators, the Associated Press reported. Perez resigned as mayor in June 2010, a week after being convicted by a jury on five felony corruption charges.

The conviction was overturned by the state Appellate Court in 2013 and the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the reversal in 2016, according to the Hartford Courant. The state moved to re-try Perez, who pleaded guilty in August 2018 to taking a bribe and attempted first-degree larceny by extortion. He was not given a prison sentence, but did lose his city pension in a Sept. 16, 2016 ruling, which was upheld in another ruling on March 13, 2019.

Alphah East
Former state probation officer in Norwalk

Defense Attorney, Daniel Ford, left, represents defendant and Probation Officer, Alphah East, center, during his arraignment in Norwalk, Conn. Superior Court Tuesday Jan. 12, 2009.

Defense Attorney, Daniel Ford, left, represents defendant and Probation Officer, Alphah East, center, during his arraignment in Norwalk, Conn. Superior Court Tuesday Jan. 12, 2009.

File photo

Alphah East, a former state probation officer in state Superior Court in Norwalk, was charged in 2010 with receiving a bribe after allegedly taking a $5,000 check from someone, promising to vacate a probation sentence, during an undercover police investigation. East was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He lost his pension in a ruling on Dec. 1, 2017.

Karen Guillet
Former Oxford tax collector

Former Oxford Tax Collector Karen Guillet talks to her attorney Dominick Thomas and a bailiff during her sentencing Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 in state Superior Court in Milford, Conn.

Former Oxford Tax Collector Karen Guillet talks to her attorney Dominick Thomas and a bailiff during her sentencing Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 in state Superior Court in Milford, Conn.

File photo

Karen Guillet, a former tax collector for the town of Oxford, pleaded guilty in July 2012 to stealing money from the town to allegedly pay for purchases at high-end retail stores, along with spa treatments and a dog walker. Her projected annual pension benefit was $21,771.96. She was sentenced to four years in jail in November 2012. She lost her pension in a ruling on Oct. 31, 2012.

Aaron Huntsman
Former state police trooper

Aaron Huntsman, left, the former state police trooper who earlier pleaded guilty to third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence for stealing cash and a necklace from the scene of an accident, gives a statement during his sentencing hearing before Judge Robert Devlin Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. His attorney A. Ryan McGuigan stands with him in court.

Aaron Huntsman, left, the former state police trooper who earlier pleaded guilty to third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence for stealing cash and a necklace from the scene of an accident, gives a statement during his sentencing hearing before Judge Robert Devlin Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. His attorney A. Ryan McGuigan stands with him in court.

File photo

Aaron Huntsman, a former Connecticut State Police trooper, was convicted of stealing cash and jewelry from a dying motorcyclist after a 2013 crash, which was caught on video. He was sentenced in 2014 to five years in prison, suspended after one year. He lost his pension in a ruling on Nov. 13, 2015.

Henry L. Centrella Jr.
Former Winchester finance director

Henry Centrella, center, walks into the courtroom in Litchfield.

Henry Centrella, center, walks into the courtroom in Litchfield.

File photo

Henry L. Centrella Jr., a former finance director for the town of Winchester, pleaded guilty in January 2014 to stealing at least $2 million from the town. His projected pension benefit was about $34,380 annually. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and his pension was revoked in a ruling on April 14, 2014.

Eleanor Sanford Cruz
Former Hebron schools superintendent

Former Plymouth Superintendent Eleanor S. Cruz appears at her sentencing hearing on Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at Rockville District Court in Vernon, Conn.

Former Plymouth Superintendent Eleanor S. Cruz appears at her sentencing hearing on Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at Rockville District Court in Vernon, Conn.

Jim Shannon / Associated Press

Eleanor Sanford Cruz, a former Hebron schools superintendent, pleaded guilty in September 2015 to using a school district credit card to allegedly pay for meals at high-end restaurants, groceries, online purchases, gas and gardening supplies, according to the Hartford Courant. The Courant also reported Cruz was accused of charging the school district for consulting services she was not eligible to receive. State judicial records indicate she was sentenced to a suspended prison term. A judge denied the revocation of her pension.

Kimberly Brown
Former state Department of Motor Vehicles employee

Kimberly Brown, a 10-year employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Kimberly Brown, a 10-year employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Contributed Photo

Kimberly Brown, a former state Department of Motor Vehicles employee, pleaded guilty in 2018 to stealing $80,000 from the agency. She was accused of using the funds to catch up on bills and expenses. She was sentenced in 2019 to one year in prison. Her pension was revoked in a ruling on Aug. 13, 2020.

James Santorella
Former Stamford accountant

Former Stamford accountant James Santorella is arraigned in State Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. on Wednesday June 16, 2010.

Former Stamford accountant James Santorella is arraigned in State Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. on Wednesday June 16, 2010.

File Photo

James Santorella, a former accountant for the city of Stamford, pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny after investigators claim he embezzled more than $20,000 in taxpayer funds. But Santorella did not face jail time after agreeing to pay restitution, along with the costs of an audit. He instead received a suspended prison sentence, as well as five years probation. In 2014, a state judge also ruled that Santorella would keep his yearly $63,000 pension, noting the crime only lasted four months and Santorella had forfeited credits to the city that would have granted him a higher pension as part of his restitution deal.

Madeline Asipi
Former caretaker for the state Department of Developmental Services

Madeline Asipi, a former caretaker working for the state Department of Developmental Services, was charged in 2013 with larceny for thefts dating back to at least 2011, according to the Republican-American. She pleaded guilty and received a suspended prison sentence, state court records show. A judge granted a 17 percent reduction of her pension.

Michael Olzinski
Former pharmacy supervisor for UConn Student Health Services

Michael Olzinski, a former pharmacy supervisor of the University of Connecticut’s Student Health Services, became the focus of an investigation in April 2015 that authorities said found many items he ordered were missing from inventory, including prescription drugs.

Olzinski was accused of forging order logs and fraudulently filling prescriptions for personal use, the Associated Press reported. Olzinski billed insurance companies for about $34,000 in fraudulent prescriptions and cost UConn roughly $40,000 in missing items.

Olzinski, who retired in 2015, was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended after serving 20 months. He was ordered to pay $37,954 in restitution to UConn. A judge ruled on May 23, 2019 that Olzinski’s pension be reduced by 25 percent.

Stephanie Hodge
Former clerk at Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority in Ledyard

Stephanie Hodge, a former clerk at the Ledyard-based Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, pleaded no contest in 2015 in an elaborate embezzlement scheme where she was accused of stealing more than $44,000 from her employer, according to the Norwich Bulletin. She was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $44,440 in restitution to the water authority. Her pension was revoked in a ruling on Jan. 13, 2016.

Lynette James
Former Waterbury library clerk

Lynette James, a former library clerk for the city of Waterbury, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $200,000 from the local library. James’ projected pension benefit was about $13,000 annually. Her pension was revoked after a ruling on May 12, 2015.

Michael Siwek
Former executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority

Michael Siwek, a former executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority, was sentenced in July 2017 to two years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in 2015 in connection with accepting bribes in exchange for guaranteeing business to certain people between February 2007 and February 2012. Siwek was ordered to pay restitution of $1,503,096.91 and more than $360,000 to the IRS. He lost his pension in a ruling on Jan. 8, 2019.

David J. Bertnagel
Former Plymouth finance director

David J. Bertnagel, a former Plymouth finance director, pleaded guilty in 2015 to embezzling about $808,030 from the town’s payroll account to allegedly make mortgage payments, pay credit card bills, fund home improvement projects and buy more than $100,000 in coins, stamps and other collectibles. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and 1,500 hours of community service. He was ordered to pay restitution of $808,029.94 to the town. His pension was revoked on May 5, 2016.

Robert Lizotte
Former Torrington superintendent of streets

Robert Lizotte, Torrington’s former superintendent of streets, pleaded guilty in 2017 under the Alford Doctrine. He was arrested in October 2016 when police said he stole city-owned granite curbing while employed as superintendent. He was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term. A judge denied the revocation of his pension.

Dennis Dockery
Former state correction officer

Dennis Dockery, a former state correction officer who also served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, was accused of collecting about $5,000 in wages from the state when he was actually in prison on a sexual assault charge, according to the Hartford Courant. He pleaded guilty in April 2018 and was sentenced in June 2018 to a five-year suspended prison term.

Dockery had previously pleaded guilty to rape of an adult by force after an Army investigation into a 2010 assault of a Hamden woman, the Courant reported. He was sentenced to 17 months in the Army’s prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

When he completed his sentence, he returned to his job at the Enfield Correction Institution. Dockery failed to report his arrest on the sexual assault charge, conviction and prison sentence to the DOC. He was fired by the DOC on May 27, 2016, after an anonymous tip led to an investigation. Dockery lost his Army and state pensions.

Bruce Sanford
Former Redding highway superintendent

Bruce Sanford, former highway superintendent for the town of Redding, admitted to using town highway department funds to repair a vintage Mack truck he owned, as well as a lawn mower. Authorities said he also sold outdated town vehicles — two street sweepers and a dump truck — and kept the money for himself.

A state judge wrote in a 2015 ruling that Sanford had been convicted of first-degree larceny for embezzling more than $20,000 in public goods and services. The ruling also notes he rented a mini-excavator for his personal use. As a result, the court revoked Sanford’s pension in November 2015, except for $871 that his ex-wife was entitled to as the result of a domestic relations order.

Suki Handly
Former state Department of Social Services employee

Suki Handly, a former Department of Social Services employee, was accused of defrauding the state of more than $44,000 while she worked for the agency from March 2008 through August 2010, according to civil court documents.

Authorities claim she granted benefits to the agency’s clients that they had not applied for, and then had the electronic benefit cards sent to her office. She pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny in February 2012. Handly had previously been convicted of drug possession, prostitution and larceny offenses, the Hartford Courant reported, and told investigators at the time of the DSS embezzlement case that she was battling an Oxycontin addiction.

Handly had not worked with the agency long enough to be entitled pension payments, according to a 2014 ruling, but her pension account did have $2,118 accrued. Her pension was revoked in November 2014, and the money ordered paid to the state as part of her restitution.

Lori Tompkins
Former treasurer for Salisbury Board of Education

Lori Tompkins, a former treasurer for the Salisbury school board, was convicted of stealing $110,000 by allegedly adding money to her paycheck and pulling money from funds intended for school trips and activities, the Waterbury Republican-American reported. Tompkins did not contest losing her state pension in 2012, the newspaper reported, making her the first person to have a pension revoked under the state’s 2008 law.

David McElroy
Former New London police officer

David McElroy, a former New London police officer, pleaded no contest to two counts of fourth-degree larceny in 2015 in a workers’ compensation fraud case, The Day of New London reported. McElroy was out of work from October 2013 to March 2014 for a work-related injury, the outlet reported. During that time, investigators said they found him doing carpentry work at his home. McElroy had also previously been fired by the New London Police Department in 2013, and then rehired the following year, after an investigation found he leaked a document from a sexual assault investigation to the media.

Katheryn Maties
Former state Department of Social Services employee

Katheryn Maties, a former Department of Social Services employee, was convicted of second-degree larceny in 2014, according to court filings. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail, suspended after six months with two years of probation. Investigators accused her of issuing state administered general assistance to people who had not applied for them, and then withdrawing the money, allegedly pocketing nearly $23,000, FOX 61 reported. Her state pension was revoked in September 2014 and her contribution of $14,235 was ordered to be paid toward restitution.

Brenda Edwards
Former state Department of Social Services employee

Brenda Edwards, a former state Department of Social Services worker from Hamden, was charged with first-degree larceny in 2010, the Hartford Courant reported. She later pleaded guilty to third-degree larceny, according to civil court documents. Her pension was revoked in a ruling issued July 8, 2014.