Beacon Falls investigating potential tax fraud

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BEACON FALLS — The town is investigating a possible case of tax fraud.

The investigation centers on motor vehicle taxes paid by resident Mary Ellen Fernandes, who is also the clerk for the Planning and Zoning Commission, which appear to have been paid prior to when the taxes were payable.

The issue was raised during the Board of Selectman’s Oct. 1 meeting. According to town officials, the Department of Motor Vehicles informed the town on Sept. 12 that it had received a vehicle property tax receipt for Fernandes which it believed was falsified.

A letter written by Town Attorney Donna Civitello to DMV Investigator Chris Gilroy stated the receipt Fernandes gave on April 3 was altered by someone other than Assistant Tax Collector Linda Holt to indicate that she paid her 2011 taxes in full as well as her delinquent 2010 taxes.

In her letter, Civitello pointed out that it was the date the taxes were marked as paid that made it seem like fraud.

“I believe your office noted that the document had to have been falsified because the receipt was dated before the 2011 taxes were payable,” Civitello wrote to Gilroy.

Civitello requested the DMV conduct an investigation into the matter.

Bill Seymour, spokesman for state DMV, explained that this is not a matter the DMV would be looking into.

“If they have an allegation on their end, they need to take care of it,” Seymour said.

First Selectman Gerald Smith said that neither former Tax Collector Mildred Jurzynski, who tendered her resignation at the Oct. 1 meeting for health reasons, nor Holt are under investigation.

Smith said the only reason that Jurzynski and Holt had been mentioned in the investigation was that the document had originated in their office.

Smith said that the town was going to move forward with its own investigation. However, as of press time the town had not taken any action.

Smith said that Fernandes is still the clerk for the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Fernandes could not be reached for comment as of this post.