Domenic Costello had a personality disorder that had him always trying to show off how much of a “big spender” he was while Andrew Stinson faced financial stress that colored his decisions, the two told investigators.
In affidavits filed with the state Superior Court in Danbury, investigators outlined their case against the former Newtown police sergeant and K-9 officer, who stand accused of stealing of nearly $200,000 in union dues, public donations and investment funds within a three year period. .
“Costello, had a personality problem that caused him to be constantly trying to show people he was a person who was the big spender,” according to the affidavit used to obtain his arrest. “He would always have to pickup the bill for the drinks or pay for the meals. He stated he is now getting treatment for this.”
Costello’s financial troubles began catching up with the 33-year-old Stratford resident in 2007, according to the affidavit. It was right about that time his colleague, the department's then-K-9 officer, Andrew Stinson, 34, of Watertown, turned to Costello for a personal loan.
Stinson said he had been under financial stress, according to investigators. He and his wife faced foreclosure on their house and repossession of their three vehicles, Stinson told investigators in a sworn affidavit. On top of that, they were having marital problems and were in the midst of divorce proceedings, he said in the affidavit.
Stinson owns a modest split-level 1,200 square-foot house in Watertown that he bought in 2006. It was last assessed at $164,300, which would mean its likely appraised value is $235,000. Publicly available foreclosure databases do not list the property as under the threat of foreclosure.
Both former officers are being represented by lawyers who could not be reached for comment Friday.
Investigators said they compiled their evidence by combing through union finances as well as the personal banking accounts of Costello and Stinson – both of whom, along with their wives, cooperated with police after the alleged theft was uncovered.
Although Newtown police said the investigation was handed off to Danbury police, Newtown detective Jason Frank – a former union official – played a key role in piecing together some of the transations, according to the affidavit.
The first evidence that Costello, the union treasurer, and Stinson, the union president, allegedly diverted funds into their own personal accounts came on Nov. 19, 2007 when Costello took $45,000 from the union’s investment account, deposited it into its checking account and then diverted $25,000 to Stinson and $13,000 to himself, according to the affidavit.
Investigators said they were able to trace financial records over the course of three years that showed the two spent a total of $187,000 in union funds – Stinson $96,000 and Costello $92,000.
Some of the money came from donations from the public – including $8,000 worth of checks averaging $35 a donation – others came from union dues – including $22,000 automatically deducted from salaries for union dues but never paid to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 15 to which the Newtown police union belongs.
At least half of the money, $91,183, came from the union’s investment account, effectively wiping it out, according to the affidavit.
While these two officers were the only ones investigators said orchestrated the alleged theft, Costello also indirectly involved at least one other officer.
In 2007 he offered to lend that officer, who was experiencing personal problems, $4,500, according to the affidavit. The check that officer received was drawn from the union account, although Costello told the officer he had covered the amount by depositing his own personal money into the union account, according to the affidavit.
The officer, who brought the incident to the attention of detectives when the scandal first arose, eventually repaid the money, although Costello told the officer to make the repayment checks out to him rather than the union because he had covered the loan, according to the affidavit.
It is unclear how suspicions into Costello's and Stinson’s conduct first came to light except it was sometime during the Columbus Day weekend that a fellow officer called union president, Newtown Police Officer Scott Ruszczyk, accusing Stinson and Costello of the financial improprieties.
When Ruszczyk approached the two, they admitted to taking out "loans" from the union account, according to the affidavit.
At a meeting held at Ruszczyk’s house, which Frank also attended, Costello and Stinson argued their case and asked they be allowed to pay back the money, erroneously saying money from the union’s investment account hadn’t been touched, according to the affidavit. Stinson pledged to repay an estimated $30,000, according to the affidavit.
On Oct. 15, Costello and Stinson were placed on paid administrative leave and a criminal investigation headed by Danbury police was ordered.
Costello and Stinson, who were arrested on a string of larceny and conspiracy and accessory charges, are to be arraigned next Friday in state Superior Court in Danbury. Both have since resigned from the police department.
According to town data, Stinson, a nine-year police veteran, earned a gross salary of $83,842 while Costello, a seven year veteran who had been promoted to sergeant in 2009, earned $86,587 during fiscal year 2009-10.
Costello now works as a manager of a donut shop in Stratford and Stinson listed his occupation as in marketing for a construction company in Plainville, according to their arrest reports.