Two former Newtown police officers charged with embezzlement appeared in state Superior Court in Danbury on Friday where negotiations between the two men, their lawyers and state's attorney stretched for several hours before being continued for another two weeks.
The parties seemed close to arriving at what appeared to be a plea agreement, as lawyers and the two men – who are accused of embezzling nearly $200,000 from the Newtown police union – periodically ducked into a conference room to confer with one another as part of the closed-door negotiations.
At one point, after emerging from one of those closed-door sessions, former Newtown police K-9 officer Andy Stinson, 35, could be seen wiping tears from his eyes as he sat on a bench outside of the courtroom, and later coupling his face into his hands while being comforted by his father.
While Stinson was accompanied by his parents, who also were at , former police sergeant Domenic Costello, 34, who normally appears in court by himself, was joined Friday, by his father, former Stratford mayoral candidate Domenic Costello.
The two Costellos spent more time sequestered in the conference rooms talking with one another after conferring with their lawyer John Gulash.
Eventually, Gulash, James Diamond – Stinson's lawyer – and State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky held one final conference with one another for 20 minutes before returning to chambers to talk to Superior Court Judge John Blawie and later emerging in open court to formally ask for the two-week continuance.
"We need additional time," Gulash said in court.
Diamond also agreed a continuance was necessary.
"My client does want to resolve this matter," he said of Costello.
Following the court appearance, Gulash declined to elaborate on what kind of negotiations were being discussed.
"It would be inappropriate to comment on that," he said.
The court case has stretched for close to a year, with the pre-trial stage consisting of closed-door negotiations supervised by a judge. The judge is typically brought in to help the lawyers reach an agreement, and provides input on matters, such as whether jail time would be appropriate and the possible term of any imprisonment.
Lawyers from both parties and the prosecutors office declined to publicly talk about the particulars of their negotiations, including whether jail time was a possibility. Typically, in larceny cases, repayment of money alleged to have been taken becomes part of the judgment.
Sedensky, the prosecutor, said he was satisfied with how negotiations were proceeding.
"It's moving along at an appropriate pace," he said.
Costello and Stinson were on charges that included multiple counts of first-degree larceny. They were accused of more than $90,000 each from the police union bank and investment accounts over the course of several years.
The alleged thefts were after members of the police department began asking questions about union finances only to discover the accounts were nearly fully depleted. The union funds came from a mix of dues, donations, and investment income dating to the start of the , which was chartered in 1971.
Stinson, who at the time was a nine-year department veteran, and Costello, a seven-year veteran, were respectively the president and treasurer of the union. In their positions, they .
The scandal rocked the close-knit police department, particularly because prior to the scandal, Stinson and Costello were well-liked among their peers and considered exemplary members of the force. They early last year.
The two are expected back in Danbury court at 2 p.m., Feb. 24.