After nearly a year and half of police investigation, court appearances and continuances, the case of two former officers accused of embezzling money from their union may be headed toward its conclusion in two weeks, one of the lawyers in the case said.
Domenic Costello, a former Newtown police sergeant, Andrew Stinson, a former Newtown police officer once in charge of the K-9 unit, and their lawyers appeared in state Superior Court in Danbury Wednesday for their first supervised pre-trial conference.
Such conferences often involved deal negotiations that occur behind closed doors with a judge presiding and prosecutors and defense lawyers present. In this case as the judge and lawyers met behind closed doors, Costello, who came alone, and Stinson, who came with his parents, waited for about two hours outside of the courtroom with the general public.
Emerging from the conference, lawyer John Gulash conferred with Costello, his client, and later said in an interview no agreement had been reached but that a resolution may be in place for the next court date of 2 p.m., Feb. 10.
"There's a shot we'll resolve it (on that date)," Gulash said.
While the police department appears to have moved on from the scandal, hiring and promoting officers to fill the void left by the two – once considered by colleagues to be exemplary examples of the Newtown police force – the conclusion of the criminal case is long-awaited by department officials and others.
Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, who ordered an internal investigation once news of the scandal surfaced, has said he wants to wait for the criminal case to be resolved before releasing the report, which he has termed to be in draft format until then.
Police union officials also have said in the past they are anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the case in which nearly $200,000 allegedly was siphoned from the Newtown police union coffers over several years. Part of any deal would likely to include arrangements for repayment of money taken from union accounts, which is typical when embezzlement is alleged.
No other officers have been implicated in the case, officials said.
The allegations first surfaced around October 2010 after some police officers in the department began questioning the union's finances only to discover the money had virtually disappeared from the group's bank and investment accounts. The money had been accumulated over time, officials said.
Stinson, 33, faces three counts of first-degree larceny and second-degree larceny while Costello, 35, faces two counts of first-degree larceny and first-degree accessory to larceny. Both also were charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and third-degree larceny. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Investigators said starting in 2007, Costello, the then-union treasurer, and Stinson, the then-president, conspired to withdraw a total of $187,000 over several years from the Newtown police union's checking and investment accounts for their own personal use.
When confronted by fellow officers last October, Stinson and pledged to pay back the money.
Costello also told detectives investigating the case that he had financial troubles, which stemmed from a personality disorder that caused him to pick up the bill for drinks and meals and show that he was a "big spender," according to an arrest affidavit.
Both were after officials discovered the alleged theft. Both .