Sharon Scanlon never lived the high life, her defense attorney said Thursday.
Scanlon, the former assistant finance director for the City of Shelton, surrendered Wednesday to state police after learning they had obtained a warrant charging her with 57 felonies in connection to the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city.
The precise dollar amount was not mentioned in the police press release and the warrant has yet to be made public.
William F. Dow III, who defended disgraced former Gov. John Rowland on corruption charges in 2009, is no stranger to cases in which people in power are accused of improperly using their positions to enrich themselves — and neither is the Valley.
Two and a half months ago, former Oxford Tax Collector Karen Guillet was sentenced to serve four years in prison after pleading guilty to looting town coffers of nearly $250,000.
Guillet’s “excesses were legendary,” Oxford First Selectman George Temple said in court: “She always had new Jaguars, shopped at exclusive boutiques, went on lavish trips, and even had a thousand-dollar pair of shoes.”
That’s not the case with Scanlon, Dow said Thursday.
“There’s no indication that, unlike (cases of) people where there are similar charges, that she went out and bought a $5,000 shower curtain for her bathroom or has a house in Maui,” Dow said Thursday. “There’s no indication that my client engaged in the high life.”
Scanlon, 48, was processed at the Troop I Barracks in Bethany Wednesday afternoon on a warrant charging her with single count of first-degree larceny and 56 counts of first-degree forgery. She was released after posting $100,000 bond and is due at Superior Court in Milford Feb. 5.
Dow said Scanlon is still living in Shelton and has “substantial support” from a network of family and friends.
“No one enjoys being accused of a crime, especially someone who has an extended family and is devoted to her family and is going to incur extensive publicity,” Dow said.
“She’s a devoted wife and mother, which makes the allegations all the more painful,” he added.
Dow wouldn’t discuss details of the case, saying he hasn’t yet seen the paperwork.
“I haven’t even read the warrant,” Dow said. “I don’t know what the specific facts alleged underlying the allegations are. “
He wouldn’t say whether Scanlon had been questioned by state police during the investigation, or answer other specific questions about the case, other than to say she intends to plead not guilty to the charges.
“I’m not going to go into that,” he said. “The facts are she’s been accused of a larceny and she’s going to address those charges when she goes to court.”
In a press release announcing the arrest, state police said their investigation, which began last summer after city officials alerted them to a problem, “determined that (Scanlon) drafted fraudulent checks into her personal checking account via ATM at selected locations over a 10-year period.”
She resigned Aug. 23 after Mayor Mark Lauretti threatened to fire her.
In addition to the criminal case, the city filed a lawsuit against Scanlon last year claiming she had taken $348,416 in taxpayer money. A judge put a lien in that amount on Scanlon’s Crescent Drive home. The case is still pending.
Lauretti said Wednesday that an internal investigation performed by city officials determined Scanlon had taken a lot more than $348,416, but wouldn’t say what the specific amount was.