Monday, September 28, 2015

Former Plymouth superintendent pleads guilty to larceny - The Bristol Press: Bristol Press

Former Plymouth superintendent pleads guilty to larceny - The Bristol Press: Bristol Press

Add another to the superintendents gone bad list.   Over sight of superintendents is a must.  There is too much blind trust in superintendents.  The following piece appears full on the Bristol Press website. Be sure to click the link to see pictures associated with the story.


PLYMOUTH — Former Superintendent Eleanor Cruz
pleaded guilty to stealing about $15,000 from her previous employer, the
Hebron school district.

Cruz, 64, of Essex, entered her plea to the
single felony charge of first-degree larceny in Superior Court in
Rockville Thursday.

She was accused of using a Hebron school system
credit card at high-end restaurants and online retailers, as well as to
buy groceries, gasoline and gardening supplies. She left Hebron in
December of 2012 to become superintendent in Plymouth.

Tolland County State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky says he’s seeking a three-year sentence suspended after one year.

Cruz’s lawyer John Gesmonde says he’s confident
she would have been exonerated, but that the financial cost and possible
imprisonment of up to 20 years were too risky.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, Dec. 3.

Cruz started as Plymouth’s superintendent Dec.
17, 2012. She was arrested Aug. 7, 2014, on a charge of first-degree
larceny for alleged misappropriation of funds in connection with her
previous job at K-6 superintendent in Hebron.

After her arrest, she was on administrative leave with pay, which totaled $162,000 in salary and benefits.

The Board of Education paid for an independent
forensic accountant to review school expenditures from the time Cruz was
hired, which ultimately found nothing improper during her short time
heading Plymouth schools.

She officially resigned Sept. 11, 2014, after reaching a severance agreement that cost the district over $70,000 more.

Cruz had taken over as Plymouth superintendent
three days after Anthony Distasio officially ended his 11 year tenure in
the job. After her arrest, former district business manager Michael
Santogatta was acting superintendent until her resignation, when Mark
Winzler took over as interim superintendent. Martin Semmel was named to
the position as of last March.

Before coming to Plymouth, for almost eight years
Cruz headed Hebron’s K-6 portion of the RHAM regional school district,
which also covers Andover and Marlboro.

In 2012, state police received a complaint from
Hebron officials about some $15,000 in possible misappropriated town
funds after Cruz left the job.

The Hebron Board of Education reviewed both
Cruz’s use of the district credit card and some payments made to her
throughout 2012. The review concluded at least $5,905 in charges or
payments were personal in nature and/or made by Cruz in error, and
$9,113 in charges were unauthorized, lacked supporting documentation,
and/or not for district-related purposes.

For many of the charges, receipts were either not
provided, lacked details of the items purchased or were cut to
eliminate the details, the review said.

The Hebron board alleged:
∎ An overpayment of $100 for Cruz’s insurance expenses, with no reimbursement to board for the overpayment identified.

∎ She received a $2,400 travel advance in July
2012, which her new employment agreement negotiated weeks later and
applied retroactively did not cover, but she did not reimburse the board
for the advance.

∎ Cruz used the district credit card to make 10
fuel purchases totaling some $390, although her contract did not contain
any provisions allowing fuel to be charged to board.

∎ She charged two personal purchases at Nordstrom
Rack department store and Wegmans supermarket in Maryland, in November
2012, for about $352.

∎ In the fall of 2012, she used Hebron funds to
pay $2,375 in consulting fees to Kim M. Bennett, of Northeast
Consulting, for interpreting data and information about the Plymouth
school district.

∎ The district credit card was used for two
Federal Express home deliveries, totaling $198.07, which appeared to be
domestic home deliveries.

∎ Cruz authorized 23 charges at Ted’s Foods, a
supermarket in Hebron, totaling about $960. The charges were made to a
house account at Ted’s in the name of Gilead Hill School and include a
charge of $89.72 on Dec. 15, 2012, the day after Cruz’s last day of

∎ She used the district credit card 23 times to pay gardening and landscaping vendors, totaling about $1,406.

∎ The district credit card was used 12 times at Colonial Supermarket in Essex, where Cruz lives, totaling $790.

Additional charges were made, totaling $6,066, at
restaurants, gift and/or jewelry shops or boutiques, pharmacies, food
stores, farm markets, florists, online retailers, a toy store and a car

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-584-0501 ext. 1802 or

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