The arrest of a Connecticut town’s finance director — who is accused of embezzling $2.3 million while financially supporting his mistress in Florida — has left the small community in financial crisis.
Henry L. Centrella Jr., 59, was arrested in August on five counts of first-degree larceny after several months of investigation found more than $2 million of misappropriated funds from January 2008 through November 2012, according to his arrest warrant.
Centrella had served as the finance director for the town of Winchester since 1982 and had unrestricted access to the town’s assets and finances for more than 30 years. He was fired in January, the warrant said.
A private auditing firm discovered an irregularity in the town’s finances, which led to criminal allegations, Connecticut State Attorney David Shepack told CNN.
Centrella, who lived in neighboring Winsted according to the arrest warrent, allegedly gathered the large sum of money by using various schemes such as filing inflated tax information and misappropriating town funds. According to sworn statements written by members of his staff, Centrella never allowed anyone to assist him with depositing the town’s money in the bank, even if he was on vacation, insisting that money be kept in a drawer for him until his return.
The financial consequences for the small Connecticut town of Winchester have been “wide-ranging and deep,” according to Kevin Nelligan, the town’s attorney. The town has had to lay off police officers and other government workers because of the financial strain, he said.
Unable to pay bills on time, repair public roads and facing the possibility of schools missing payroll, Nelligan expressed it might take years for the town to recover.