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Top Stories 2015: Changes in town justice court as judge retires

12/30/2015 8:30 AM |

Ms. Stulsky leaving court last year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

A former Southold Town senior court clerk accused of stealing more than $230,000 in bail funds pleaded guilty to a grand larceny charge Jan. 14.

Christine Stulsky of New Suffolk served a six-month jail sentence and agreed to pay back the money in full over the next five years.

Ms. Stulsky had worked for the town for more than 30 years when she was arrested in March 2014.

Justice Court director Leanne Reilly and town Justice William Price said the court has begun using more checks and balances to make sure money is adequately tracked. It now uses a program that tracks changes to finances in the court system — including who made those changes.

“Nothing in it can be changed,” Judge Price had said. “You have to give a reason to change anything.”

The court has also altered how it handles bails paid by defendants at the local police station, giving the system extra layers of oversight, Ms. Reilly said.

Ms. Reilly’s job itself, which was proposed in the wake of the scandal, was created to enhance control over what happens in the court.

Ms. Stulsky had worked primarily for Judge Rudolph Bruer, 75, who did not seek re-election to the seat he was first elected to in 1995.

Southold attorney Brian Hughes was elected to the post in November and will be sworn in Monday, Jan. 4.

In other Justice Court news, the town is currently exploring a plan for renovations to the court offices, which are now housed in a pair of portable units connected to the back of Town Hall. The town is considering replacing those portables with five new ones placed perpendicular to the main building, an upgrade town officials said could be paid for through energy savings.

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