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Cops refer pension controversy involving Westport finance director to state's attorney

Updated 7:36 am, Tuesday, May 7, 2013
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Questions engulfing the pension granted a former New Canaan first selectman -- a case involving Westport Finance Director Gary Conrad, who was New Canaan's chief fiscal officer at the time -- have been referred by police to the State's Attorney's Office for possible investigation.

"I made an inquiry with the state," New Canaan Police Chief Ed Nadriczny said Monday. "I asked them to look into the matter to determine if there was any impropriety (at the) end of February."

It is immediately unclear when and if any action will be taken.

An October review of the issue by the law firm Bishop, Jackson & Kelly, LLC, determined that acts by Jeb Walker, the retired New Canaan first selectman, and Conrad violated the town's Code of Ethics, but made no determination whether they constituted criminal activity. The firm advised that the town's Pension Committee decide whether to pursue an investigation.

Last December, the New Canaan Pension Committee, chaired by First Selectman Robert Mallozzi, decided not to send the matter to state officials for investigation.

Mallozzi was not available for comment Monday afternoon.

Walker was paid a pension of $944 per month for nine months before it was discovered last summer that he was only entitled to $344 monthly based on the amount of service for which he was vested. Walker has since returned the more than $4,000 he inappropriately received.

Conrad's role in the New Canaan pension benefits controversy has been under scrutiny, with a focus on how the outgoing first selectman's pension was approved at a "significantly" higher rate than he was entitled.

Conrad, who held the top fiscal post in New Canaan since 1994, was hired as Westport's finance in January 2012 by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who last year when the controversy erupted, said, "I am not familiar with the ins and outs of New Canaan politics, but am satisfied with the explanation provided to me by Gary Conrad.

"Gary is a fine addition to the Town of Westport and has performed admirably in his role as finance director. In his time here, he has demonstrated he believes in the highest ethical standards for town government operations," Joseloff said last October.