Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Connecticut Man Charged With Embezzling $808K From Municipality

From WTNH Ch.8 on 1/20/2015:

A former finance director for the town of Plymouth was charged Tuesday with embezzling more than $800,000.

David Bertnagel, 41, was arrested Tuesday morning and presented in U.S. District Court in Hartford on a charge of theft from a local government receiving federal funds. That carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.

According to the criminal complaint from the U.S. attorney’s office, Bertnagel issued 207 checks to himself from October 2011 to October 2014 totaling $808,030.

Bertnagel, who worked for the finance department for more than six years, is accused of using more than $100,000 of the stolen money to buy coins, stamps, highly sought-after Hummel porcelain figurines and other collectibles. Prosecutors said he also used embezzled funds for home improvement projects, mortgage payments and credit card bills.

Bertnagel, who lost his job in November, was released after posting a $250,000 bond. A phone call to his Thomaston home seeking comment Tuesday went unanswered.

According to the complaint, Bertnagel told the FBI that he had been authorized by former Mayor Vincent Festa and former mayoral assistant Theodore Scheidel to make early draws on his pension.

In November, his lawyers provided a photo copy of the paperwork to the town, which turned it over to the FBI.

There is no record of such a contract in City Hall, according to the complaint.

Festa told authorities he didn’t recall any such agreement and doesn’t believe it occurred. Scheidel is deceased.

According to the complaint, the FBI discovered an electronic copy of Festa’s signature on Bertnagel’s computer which appears to be “very similar” to the one on the purported contract.


Read the whole story here.

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