Ridgefielder indicted for embezzling housing funds

A federal grand jury in New Haven has returned an indictment charging Elizabeth Jo Gutierrez, 47, of Ridgefield, with one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

David B. Fein, United States attorney for the District of Connecticut, said the indictment alleges that Ms. Gutierrez embezzled $30,000 from the Fairfield Housing Authority.

The indictment was returned on Jan. 23,  and Ms. Gutierrez appeared yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and was released on a $50,000 bond.

The Fairfield Housing Authority administers federal housing programs for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, providing affordable housing for eligible low-income families and the elderly in that town.

According to the indictment, Ms. Gutierrez served as the executive director of the Fairfield Housing Authority from approximately July 2010 to December 2011.  In the summer of 2011, she issued two checks, each for $15,000, from the Fairfield Housing Authority’s checking account and subsequently deposited them into her own checking account, the indictment said.

The charge of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  “Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford.

This matter is being investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Sean Beaty.

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