State attorney general is reviewing Bridgewater's charitable Burnham Fund

The state Attorney General's office is reviewing what steps should be taken and whether an investigation would be warranted in response to a Bridgewater town official's request for a local investigation.

Board of Finance member George Allingham has contacted the state office requesting an investigation into dispersals from the town's Burnham Fund.

Mr. Allingham has alleged First Selectman Bill Stuart has mismanaged funds in the trust. The allegations have further soured a friendship between Mr. Allingham and Mr. Stuart that had stretched over decades.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal acknowledged Mr. Allingham's "serious questions" about expenditures made from the Burnham Fund.

On Wednesday, Mr. Blumenthal said his office is reviewing the case.

"Right now all we have is allegations without any substantiations," Mr. Blumenthal said. "We believe a review is called for to determine what steps are necessary, including if an investigation is necessary."

If funds are found to be inappropriately spent, he said, then it is generally required that reimbursement to the charity is required and there could be other penalties.

"But at this point, any discussion of penalties is very premature and would be hypothetical," Mr. Blumenthal added.

Mr. Allingham had "no comment" on his request to the attorney general.

"His (Mr. Blumenthal's) office is looking into the matter and that is what it should do," he said Wednesday.

The Attorney General's office has the responsibility of representing the public interest in the protection of any gifts or legacies intended for public or charitable purposes by state statute.

Mr. Stuart was dismayed Wednesday discussing the matter, expressing disappointment that "a longtime friend would have this done to someone."

"I'm going to call the Attorney General's office and ask him to please investigate this so we can put an end to this mess," he said.

The Burnham Fund is a town-held trust established in 1921 from a bequest by William D. Burnham to assist residents in the town in times of financial hardship.

The fund has recently been the subject of a Freedom of Information Commission ruling that required the names of recipients and amounts of money dispersed to them from the fund to be released.

The town's Board of Finance also is having an audit of the fund conducted.