After being threatened with a lawsuit, an ex-employee who allegedly “damaged” Derby to the tune of $9,000 finally paid back the money she owed to the city.
Katherine Kulhawik, a former city tax clerk, paid $1,965 Aug. 1, the last day she could pay the money without winding up in civil court.
Kulhawik and the Derby Board of Aldermen signed a “separation agreement” last year that called for Kulhawik to make monthly restitution payments of $400 to the city — but she hadn’t paid in five months, city officials said last week.
Derby Corporation Counsel Joseph Coppola said last week he had hired Keith Murray, an Ansonia attorney, to prepare a lawsuit against Kulhawik.
The payment negates the need for a lawsuit, Coppola confirmed via e-mail Thursday (Aug. 1).
Kulhawik was escorted from Derby City Hall in June 2012, after a resident who paid her car taxes in cash complained to city Tax Collector Denise Cesaroni that the Department of Motor Vehicles was questioning a receipt issued from the tax office.
That kicked off an internal investigation conducted by Coppola.
In August 2012, Kulhawik and the Board of Aldermen hammered out the “separation agreement,” which is published at the end of this article.
In the agreement, both sides acknowledged Kulhawik “may have” mishandled cash, misapplied tax payments, deleted cash payments, manipulated data and suspended tax billing statements — and that the city sustained $9,000 in “damages.”
The agreement allowed Kulhawik to resign. She promised not to sue or file a grievance with her union. Derby lost the right to file a formal complaint with law enforcement after Kulhawik made a first payment of $5,000 and subsequent monthly payments of $400.
Kulhawik had lived up to her end of the deal until February, when she stopped paying making her monthly payments.
Sheila O’Malley, the mayor’s chief administrative officer, said via e-mail that a young girl dropped off a cashier’s check and money order Thursday in Derby City Hall. The documents had Kulhawik’s name and signature on them.
The question of whether Kulhawik was making her payments was raised publicly July 25 by Barbara DeGennaro, president of the Derby Board of Aldermen.
The Board of Aldermen has voted twice to keep the details of Coppola’s investigation secret. The Valley Indy has attempted to get a copy of the agreement through a Freedom of Information complaint with the state. The investigative report is being reviewed by an attorney with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.