Jail Time, Restitution-Â Â Ex-Police Officers Plead Guilty In Theft Case
Jail Time, RestitutionâÂ Â
Ex-Police Officers Plead Guilty In Theft Case
By Andrew Gorosko
DANBURY â The two former Newtown police officers, who each were charged with multiple felonies for allegedly stealing large sums of money from the Newtown Police Union, have reached plea agreements in their companion criminal cases, which will have them serve jail time and make full restitution of the money that they now admit they stole.
In Danbury Superior Court on February 24, Andrew Stinson, 35, of Watertown, and Domenic Costello, 34, of Stratford, each pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree larceny.
In March 2011, Stinson was charged with six felonies, and Costello was charged with five felonies. Because the two men each agreed to plead guilty to one count of first-degree larceny, they will not be prosecuted on the other charges.
Under the terms of the parallel plea agreements, each man would serve a six-month jail sentence that would be followed by three years of probation.
Also, before they are sentenced on May 2, Stinson would need to make restitution to the police union in the amount of $95,667, and Costello would need to make restitution in the amount of $95,392.
Under the plea agreements, the men would be given ten-year prison sentences, which would be suspended after they serve six months of jail time. If they should violate the terms of their three-year probations following their six-month incarcerations, they could be reimprisoned to serve the balance of their ten-year prison terms.
Also, because both men will be convicted felons, they must provide biological samples to serve as forensic reference material for the stateâs genetic database, which is used in criminal investigations.
The two ex-police officers reached the plea agreements on February 24, after a third supervised pre-trial conference was held among Judge John Blawie; attorney James Diamond, representing Stinson; attorney John Gulash, Jr, representing Costello, and Stateâs Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III. Previous conferences were held on February 10 and January 18.
Mr Sedensky presented the facts of the prosecutions against the two men to Judge Blawie in Courtroom 3 on February 24, after which both men acknowledged the accuracy of the charges and then pleaded guilty to their respective first-degree larceny charges. Both men initially had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Stinson was accompanied in court by his parents. Costelloâs father also attended court.
Both men will remain free on written promises to appear in court until their May 2 sentencing, when they would then begin serving their six-month jail terms.
Pre-sentence investigations will be conducted on both men. Because the defendants have entered plea agreements, their lawyers will not be allowed to argue for lesser sentences.
Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe said February 28 that he has no comment on the terms of the defendantsâ planned sentences, as it is inappropriate for him to comment on such a judicial matter.
Chief Kehoe said he is awaiting the court disposition of the case before disclosing the conclusions of the police departmentâs internal investigation into Stinsonâs and Costelloâs criminal actions.
âCertainly, this (criminal) incident is not reflective of the men and women (police officers) who serve Newtown every day with honesty, integrity, and complete dedication to the highest ideals of policing,â Chief Kehoe said.
Of the plea agreements reached by Stinson and Costello, Newtown Police Union President Scott Ruszczyk said, âWe donât have any comment on that.â
In March 2011, Stinson was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, three counts of first-degree larceny, one count of second-degree larceny, and one count of third-degree larceny.
Stinson, an ex-patrol officer and police dog handler, formerly was the police unionâs president.
Costello was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, two counts of first-degree larceny, one count of accessory to first-degree larceny, and one count of third-degree larceny.
Costello, an ex-sergeant, formerly served as the police unionâs treasurer. He also conducted the police departmentâs Citizen Police Academy informational course for the public.
Arrest warrant affidavits in the two cases describe the police unionâs October 2010 discovery that its financial accounts were depleted due to illegitimate withdrawals by Stinson and Costello.
Both police officers were put on paid administrative leave in October 2010 after the police union learned of the missing money.
During a police investigation, the two men explained that they had âborrowedâ money from union accounts to cover personal expenses and that they intended to pay back the union.
âBoth Stinson and Costello admitted that they did take out âpersonal loansâ to help with personal problems,â according to legal papers.
Following a five-month investigation, Danbury police charged Stinson and Costello with the multiple offenses. Danbury police conducted the probe on behalf of the Newtown Police Department.
Both men resigned their police positions before they were arrested.