Former town clerk pleads guilty to embezzlement - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Former town clerk pleads guilty to embezzlement

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Karen Brisson Karen Brisson

"Disappointment, sadness -- It's a serious charge against someone who was an important part of our community -- and still is," said Steve Smith, a Weybridge Selectmen.

Karen Brisson served as the Weybridge Town Clerk and Treasurer for over 26 years until resigning in November, after admitting to the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands dollars between 2007 and 2011.

"This stuff starts to weigh on you and there comes a point where you just can't keep it in any longer -- especially in the position she was in.  With the position, responsibilities she had and friends and neighbors and all that stuff -- eventually you can't live with that anymore," said Devin McLaughlin, Brisson's Attorney.

The initial estimate of her embezzlement was approximately $150,000, but an independent audit shows that number is now closer to $475,000. Brisson pled guilty to one count of federal embezzlement and could face up to ten years in prison. The total amount of money stolen is still uncertain -- and until that number is finalized her plea bargain is only temporary.

"Four-hundred thousand is a number that got us through today. What the ultimate number is, it's in the ballpark, but we don't have it exactly down yet," McLaughlin said.

Smith said many residents are emotional about the case. "Disappointed and sad.  A few -- not many -- that I talked to were angry. The kind of reaction you would expect when something like this might happen with someone who was so trusted," he said.

Brisson was released on probation and granted permission to stay in the community until her sentencing in July. The town of Weybridge was receiving U.S. grants for various road projects, so a federal investigation will continue to determine the exact amount that was embezzled--  and how severe her sentence will be.

During the time Brisson admits she stole form the town, she was also Treasurer for the Weybridge Town School District. District Superintendent Gail Conley said  he is confident that the school funds are 100 percent intact.

The Town's Attorney said that insurance will cover any losses Brisson is unable to repay. Her lawyer said she really doesn't have any money, but that she has signed her house over to the town and that it will be resold to help with the debt.

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