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New Canaan Couple Arraigned on Larceny Charges

Pair are accused of stealing more than $1 million from elderly woman with dementia.

 

NORWALK -- The criminal cases against a New Canaan couple accused of swindling an elderly woman with dementia out of more than $1 million was transferred to Stamford Monday during their arraignment in state Superior Court in Norwalk.

During a brief appearance before Judge Bruce P. Hudock, Paula Louise Halloran and her husband, Michael Michelsen, had their cases put on the Part A docket in state Superior Court in Stamford, where cases involving major felony charges are prosecuted.

Halloran, 39, and Michelsen, 57, of 24 St. John’s Place, unit 8, are charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. They from 81-year-old Greenwich resident Virginia C. Bantle by having her write checks out of her brokerage accounts to numerous banking institutions, accounts and credit unions where the pair held accounts.

New Canaan Police say their alleged crimes began after Bantle opened two accounts in 2004 with brokerage firm Smith Barney at its New Canaan office, where Halloran became her financial adviser.

They were Feb. 25.

In sworn affidavits he prepared to obtain their arrest warrants, Sgt. Peter Condos says that over the course of approximately three-and-a-half years, beginning in March 2005 and continuing through November 2008, Halloran “systematically took advantage of the advanced age and impaired condition of Virginia Bantle.”

Condos says after depositing the checks Bantle wrote, Halloran and Michelsen withdrew the money and “converted it to their own personal use,” including building a house on Block Island.

Their alleged larcenous activity was brought to the attention of New Canaan Police by attorney William F. Clark, of Rodondo Beach, Calif., who said Bantle is a client and relative of his.

Condos writes that Clark provided copies of checks and a list of their ultimate destination. The sergeant says he confirmed some checks were sent directly to pay the couple’s credit card debt as well finance the home they had built.

“Many of the checks seem to have been sent directly into accounts owned by Halloran,” Condos says, with the total amount of money Bantle allegedly lost being $1,105,509.61.

Due to the five-year statute of limitations on larceny, checks written prior to April 2006 cannot be prosecuted, Condos says, lowering the alleged amount stolen to approximately $760,000.

Condos says Halloran was terminated from Smith Barney Nov. 17, 2008, for “gross” violations of company policy, including the acceptance of gifts without disclosing to the firm their existence.

In Connecticut, first-degree larceny – a B felony – occurs when the theft amounts to at least $20,000.

Halloran and Michelsen are scheduled to make their first appearance in Stamford court April 26.

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