NORWALK, Conn. – More than $70,000 meant for cancer-stricken pets instead was allegedly embezzled by a West Haven woman from a foundation started by her Norwalk employer, Norwalk Police say.
Cindyann Brelsford, 45, of 149 Painter Ave., admitted that she took the money from the Animal Cancer Foundation, according to the affidavit filed at Norwalk Superior Court. She turned herself in on a warrant early Friday.
Brelsford had been working for Dr. Gerald Post at the Veterinary Oncology and Hematology Center since 2005, the affidavit says. She was a technician, but in 2007 Post gave her extra work as a bookkeeper for the foundation and she drew her own paycheck from the account, police said.
Post became suspicious in 2011. Confronted about $700 withdrawn from a Milford ATM, Brelsford at first denied it, then said, "My daughter must have done it," the affidavit says. She was terminated.
Det. David Orr began investigating in January. Brelsford made $73,028 in unauthorized ATM withdrawals, the affidavit says. There was also a charge of $504.50 from the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City on the foundation debit card, according to the affadavit. Other charges include Linens and Things and Stop & Shop.
Brelsford was interviewed by Orr in July. She said she was relieved to have it out in the open and promised to pay it back, the affidavit says. She said her husband had been laid off, and she began to take out extra money with her pay, according to the affidavit. Then he injured his back and was unable to work, she said. Looking back on it, Post had always been kind and good to his employees, she said. If she had asked him he would have probably helped her, she said.
She used the money to pay rent and support her household, which includes her husband, two adult children, three dogs and three cats, she said, according to the affidavit.
Brelsford was charged with larceny first degree and released on $10,000 bond. The case was transferred to Stamford Superior Court Part A, where serious criminal cases are heard.