No. 3 Story of the Year: Clerk caught allegedly stealing

12/30/2014 8:00 AM |
Christine Stulsky, center, was released on $10k bond on Friday. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Christine Stulsky, center, walks out of court in March. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The Southold Town Justice Court faced a major overhaul this year after a senior court clerk was arrested and accused of stealing thousands of dollars in unsupervised bail funds.

Christine Stulsky of New Suffolk had worked in the Southold Town court for more than 30 years when she was arrested in March and accused of stealing over $50,000 in bail money from the court’s funds over several years.

Prosecutors allege that Ms. Stulsky used the stolen money for “everyday expenses,” such as pet food, groceries and cigarettes.

Ms. Stulsky left her post March 19 and surrendered to authorities March 30. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony grand larceny, defrauding government and misdemeanor official misconduct and is currently free on $10,000 bond.

Her court case is ongoing, but the repercussions of her arrest shook the town’s legal system.

In the weeks after the alleged theft came to light, town Supervisor Scott Russell said that numerous “discrepancies and deficiencies” in record-keeping were found by auditors in the court system. Those errors, he said, had not been addressed by the town justices before Ms. Stulsky’s arrest.

The incident forced a reworking of the town’s court system. In the month after Ms. Stulsky’s arrest, the Town Board created a new “justice court director” position to oversee court funds and operations.

That position will be filled in January by Village of Westhampton Beach courts director Leanne Reilly, who will report directly to the supervisor and the Town Board.

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