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Vt. employee charged with stealing from taxpayers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. employee charged with stealing from taxpayers

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Lisa Peduzzi Lisa Peduzzi
MONTPELIER, Vt. -

"As governor there is nothing more disappointing or infuriating to me," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Late Friday afternoon, the governor called a last-minute press conference to detail the arrest of a state employee.

"The charges include 19 incidents," Shumlin said.

Lisa Peduzzi, 51, a former claims examiner with the Vermont Office of Risk Management, is charged with falsifying insurance claims to buy big ticket items with taxpayer dollars.

"It was a fairly crafty and involved scheme. This was not simply putting your fingers in the till and grabbing a couple of bucks," Shumlin said.

It was a scheme that unraveled when a whistleblower from Michigan alerted Vermont authorities after Peduzzi allegedly tried to buy his $6,000 guitar online with a state of Vermont check.

"There seems to be a common plan or scheme in the way she was approaching these. There appeared to be a fabrication of claims within the risk management area," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said.

State officials say Peduzzi used her power and limited oversight to embezzle at least $75,000. And authorities say it's likely the tip of the iceberg. Investigators only went back as far as 2013 and say evidence points to at least 19 fraudulent claims, but she's worked there since 2006.

"We believe that she created false claims to conceal fraudulent activity," Vt. State Police Maj. Glenn Hall said.

"There have been a number of items that have been purchased by this that we've been able to find. Everything from guitars to boats to automobiles to pieces of jewelry," Flynn said.

But the alleged fraud didn't stop there according to investigators. They say she also fabricated claims to pay the property tax on her Plainfield home. Police got a warrant to search the property Friday, looking for more clues in this elaborate scheme.

"We have information that she may have sold some or many of these items that she purchased," Hall said. "We are asking anyone that has done business with her, either buying or selling property, to come forward to state police."

Peduzzi resigned earlier this month when confronted with the allegations. Investigators believe she acted alone. She did not need approval for payouts under $15,000. That procedure has since changed and the governor says every dollar will now need a second set of eyes.

The statute of limitations on embezzlement is six years, but investigators say they are now looking into every claim Peduzzi has processed during her entire seven years with Risk Management.

She will likely be arraigned Monday.

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