While the capitol plaza was alive Wednesday with the bustle and noise of inaugural festivities, former Democratic Sen. Thomas Gaffey of Meriden spoke quietly as he entered guilty pleas to six counts of larceny at Hartford Superior Court.
Gaffey, 51, turned himself into Troop H in Hartford on Monday after he was accused of six counts of sixth-degree larceny for using his political action committee to reimburse himself twice for travel, hotel, and other expenses from legislative trips.
At Gaffey’s arraignment, Judge Julia D. Dewey handed down a total sentence of six months, execution suspended, and one year of conditional discharge. A condition of that discharge requires Gaffey to complete 100 hours of community service within the first nine months.
Dewey noted that Gaffey had waived his right of statute of limitations, which she said would have been an “absolute defense” against the charges related to incidents that took place between 2004 and 2007. The judge acknowledged his waiver and cooperation as mitigating circumstances but chided the senator for letting down his constituents.
“This is not a victimless crime,” she said. “You have done major damage to the faith of your constituents and to the legislature. People do not trust politicians.”
Dewey said Gaffey had publicly humiliated himself for what amounted to minimal compensation. According to a press release from the Chief State’s Attorney’s office, Gaffey’s duplicate compensations ranged from $100 to $1,209 each and totaled $2,800.
Gaffey’s lawyer, M.H. Reese Norris, said that he believed the sentence was fair but he made a point to criticize recent media coverage of the charges. Norris said that they had referenced an investigation into travel claims made to Gaffey’s other job at Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, for which no wrong doing was found.
Norris said that an audit found that his client “had over-reimbursed his employer for his expenses,” adding that the CRRA had to issue a check to reimburse him for the amount he had over paid.
Given the opportunity to speak to the court, Gaffey apologized.
“I apologize to the court, to my family, my community, district, and the state of Connecticut,” he said, reiterating that he took full responsibility for the mistakes that were made.
Gaffey said he would miss his work in the legislature, especially the work he had done concerning education. When the court adjourned, Gaffey told reporters he had nothing more to say.