Former DMV worker gets 1 year for stealing $80,000
BRIDGEPORT — A state Department of Motor Vehicle worker who claimed she stole $80,000 from the agency because she was stressed out at work was sentenced Thursday to one year in prison.
“I want to apologize to the state of Connecticut, this was not something I did on purpose, I was trying to get help, but it just got to a point where it broke me down,” Kimberly Brown told Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin.
“This really was a well-thought-out scheme to steal money, and this was taxpayer’s money,” Devlin retorted. But he continued that he was giving Brown credit for making $10,000 in restitution and having no prior criminal record.
On the conviction for first-degree larceny and first-degree forgery, the judge sentenced the 49-year-old Bridgeport woman to five years, suspended after she serves one year in prison and followed by five years’ probation. He also ordered her to continue making restitution.
Brown, a 10-year employee of the DMV who worked at offices in Bridgeport and Norwalk, was arrested following a lengthy state police investigation, according to Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Applegate.
“The state feels very strongly this is a case where the defendant should go to jail,” the prosecutor told the judge. “She worked for the state government and people came to her trusting in the system and she took advantage of that.”
Brown’s lawyer, John R. Gulash Jr., argued that his client, who was making $28 dollars an hour with the DMV, became depressed and gained a large amount of weight, causing her numerous medical problems.
“She wasn’t taking the money to buy jewelry or to go on expensive trips, she was trying to catch up on her expenses,” Gulash said.
State police later said their investigation found the Bridgeport DMV office provided an “(e)nvironment permitting her (Brown) to pocket cash money.”
State police said Brown, of Hazelwood Avenue, exploited a “loop hole,” in the auto registration process created when the agency redid its computer system two years ago.
Police said Brown, a motor vehicle examiner specialist, would alter the auto registration forms that came in to show that the vehicles had been gifted from a family member of the vehicle’s new owner rather than purchased so that the vehicle was exempt from state sales tax. Police said she then kept the sales tax people paid with their registrations. No proof must be provided to DMV to show that a vehicle was gifted to avoid paying sales tax, police said.
State police said Brown would also void registration transactions, keeping the money paid for those registrations, and that she managed to hide her thefts in the computer system for more than a year before they were discovered in an audit.
When detectives confronted Brown, police said, she told them she was very stressed out at work because of the pressure her supervisors had put on her and had been denied short-term disability.
“I didn’t want to do it,” police said she told them. “But being in this depression and trying to commit suicide will make you desperate to try and survive when you get backed up.”
State police said Brown told them she thought she had only stolen between $15,000 and $20,000, carrying the money out each night in her lunch bag.
But police said the total Brown took was $80,000.