Guilty, for how much?
GREENWICH — A former Parking Services Department clerk entered a guilty plea last week to stealing money from the town, but authorities still aren’t sure how much money went missing.
Michael Gordon, 49, was initially accused of taking $11,400 when he was arrested in April of 2017. But when he agreed to a plea deal in State Superior Court late last week, he had paid back $4,000, the amount that prosecutors had authorized to settle the two felony charges against Gordon.
An accountant who has been working on implementing new procedures in the parking department said it was impossible to determine how much Gordon had siphoned off by misapplying credits for parking ticket transactions and pocketing amounts paid in cash. He also took money from SmartCard payments.
“It was unclear. Nobody knows how much was taken,” said Ron Lalli, a risk manager and accountant contracted by the town. He said there were no software programs in place when Gordon was committing the thefts, so the thefts were essentially “un-auditable.”
And there were no other means of reconciling what was missing.
“The records were in such bad shape,” Lalli said.
Attorney Phil Russell, who represented Gordon said, “It was not a significant amount. He paid it early on.”
First Selectman Peter Tesei did not return messages seeking comment.
Gordon, a Greenwich resident, was given no jail time or probation for the pleas last week.
“Jail would have been unusual, but not out of the question. Probation is typical,” said Russell, drawing on his experience in the criminal justice system. Gordon was given an unconditional discharge, Russell said, meaning his client is free and clear from law enforcement proceedings.
Lalli said the parking department has substantially revamped its money-handling procedures.
“Everything is in place, there’s much more internal controls,” he said. “We’ve been operating on much more stringent controls for the past three or four months. ... I’m very comfortable with where the department is going.”
Lalli said he didn’t have a comment on the plea deal that Gordon made with the court, but he said his arrest was a potent deterrent.
“He had a wonderful job with the town of Greenwich. He lost his job, his benefits, all of that,” the accountant said.
Besides Gordon, two other town employees are facing criminal charges for taking money from town coffers — one for allegedly profiting from the sale of scrap metal, another for allegedly taking money from petty cash in the Human Services Department.
State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo said the plea deal with Gordon “satisfies the interests of justice and the community.”
Gordon told the judge overseeing his case last week: “I take full responsibility.”