Former Middletown mayor arrested again on embezzlement charges

BY Gregory Seay

Former Middletown Mayor Stephen T. Gionfriddo, convicted 12 years ago for embezzlement, has been indicted anew on fresh charges he stole nearly $1 million from his ex-employer and a relative, prosecutors say.

Gionfriddo, 67, was arrested Tuesday on a criminal complaint accusing him of embezzling about $490,000 from a Greater Hartford law firm and for embezzling about $457,000 from a relative to repay what he allegedly stole from his former employer, the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Gionfriddo was freed on $200,000 bond following his appearance before a federal magistrate in New Haven, authorities said. If convicted on all charges, he faces more than 20 years in federal prison.

According to FBI investigators and Connecticut federal prosecutors, Gionfriddo was convicted of federal wire fraud and mail fraud offenses in 2006 for embezzling more than $633,000 from clients while acting as their real estate attorney.

In the latest case, from around Dec. 2013 to last September, authorities claim that Gionfriddo, while working as a paralegal at the unidentified law firm, made bogus requisitions for about $377,900 in checks purportedly to pay client expenses.

He allegedly converted those funds for his personal use, investigators said. Gionfriddo also forged the signature of one of the firm's partners in order to fraudulently convert a bank certificate of deposit for about $112,748 to a check, funds he also allegedly converted for his personal use. In all, Gionfriddo stole $490,648 from the firm, authorities said.

Investigators also allege that principals at the law firm confronted Gionfriddo about the alleged theft in late September, he promised to repay the firm. He then stole from a family member by taking approximately $45,000 from a checking account and approximately $217,000 from an online trading account.

He also caused a hardship withdrawal of $195,000 to be made against his family member's defined contribution plan by impersonating his relative on recorded phone calls with the plan's provider and submitting bogus paperwork.

Neither Gionfriddo nor his attorney could be immediately located Tuesday for comment.

Gionfriddo, a city councilman for over 25 years, served as Middletown's mayor for about six months in 1993, replacing former Mayor Sebastian Garafalo who resigned.