Ex-Senate GOP counsel charged with defrauding PAC
Michael J. Cronin, the former counsel to the state Senate Republicans, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree larceny in connection with what prosecutors say was the misappropriation of $267,800 from a GOP political action committee.
Cronin, 56, of West Hartford, was fired in December after Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, confronted him about unpaid bills and other issues involving the political action committee for which Cronin was treasurer since 2007..
The office of the Chief State’s Attorney said Wednesday that their investigation found misappropriations by Cronin dating back to 2012 and continuing until he was confronted by Fasano. Cronin turned himself into authorities at Fasano’s urging in December.
Fasano said Cronin’s misuse of funds from a Senate GOP caucus PAC had gone on for a while, but he believes “it ramped up quite a bit in the last couple of years.” He said the Republican caucus is suing Cronin to recover the funds.
Cronin was released on a $50,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Feb. 22.
Fasano said the lawmakers have implemented new financial safeguards, requiring bank statements from Senate GOP caucus PAC treasurers at the end of every month, and the caucus will do an audit of the filings “to make sure everything matches by looking at the bank statements.”
“I think Mike Cronin said in his arrest warrant that he lied on the quarterly statements, under penalties of perjury… that he lied to us about bank balances and therefore that’s how he sort of covered his tracks,” Fasano said.
Fasano said he has not spoken to Cronin since December.
“But you know, this is someone who was held to great respect in this building, virtually in every agency that he touched, including judicial, across the aisles, House Democrats, Senate Democrats, great relationship with Senate Democrat staff, great relationship for 20 years in this building. Someone a lot of us considered a friend,” he said.
Fasano offered no insights as to the motivation for the alleged thefts.
“I know that he did use the money for personal use, some of which was him writing checks to himself, some of which was writing checks out to folks he owed money to or wanted to purchase something from,” Fasano said. “That’s what I know about it.”
Fasano said, according to the affidavit, Cronin had family members help him replenish the money, but the Senate leader doesn’t believe all of that money was added to the caucus’ account.
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