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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Former Mansion Clam House Owner Gets 46 Months

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A former Westport restaurateur today was sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $1.3 million over three years from three foundations and $500,000 from the accounting firm where she worked, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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Soozi Folsom: held since September. File photo

U.S. Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford also ordered Soozi Folsom, 55, former owner of the long established Mansion Clam House in Saugatuck, to undergo five years of supervised release.

Last September, Folson entered a guilty plea to charges she embezzled money from the Educational Foundation of America (EFA), Prentice Foundation Inc., and Ettinger Foundation, Inc., three organizations represented by the accounting firm Godfrey & Allison, then located at 35 Church Lane, according to her attorney, William B. Westcott of Westport.

Bryant ordered Folsom to pay restitution in the total amount of $1,836,973.11. She has been detained since entering her guilty plea. (See WestportNow Sept. 18, 2012)

In addition to her work as a restaurateur, Folsom was also employed as an office manager at the firm, her attorney said. Prosecutors said she embezzled approximately $500,000 from the firm.

From approximately September 2008 to November 2011, Folsom wrote about 124 fraudulent checks drawn on the foundations’ accounts, making them payable to Groundhog, LLC, the company that owns the Mansion Clam House at 541 Riverside Ave., records show.

“She first took money from the foundations in September of 2008 when severe economic stress led her to this desperate decision,” Westcott said last September. “As is so often the case, she had an unrealistic belief that she would be in a position to return the funds as some point in the future.

“She deeply regrets that she lacked the courage and strength to turn away from the path she chose before it all got completely out of hand,” he added.

Westcott noted that after her crimes were discovered in November 2011, Folsom voluntarily gave statements and produced records “to both law enforcement and representatives of the foundations.”

WestportNow.com Image
Folsom was co-owner of Mansion Clam House, 541 Riverside Ave. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Folsom forged the signature on the fraudulent checks, signing the name of an individual with signatory authority on the foundations’ bank accounts, and then converted the monies to her own personal use, prosecutors said.

She covered up the fraud by manipulating transactions in the accounting software systems that handled the foundations’ accounting and bookkeeping, prosecutors said.

Through this scheme, Folsom stole a total of $1,385,159.82 from bank accounts belonging to the three charitable foundations, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Posted 08/01 at 10:12 PM 

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