First selectwoman: Former Fairfield CFO cost town millions

Former Fairfield Chief Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence.

Former Fairfield Chief Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence.

Fairfield Police Department / Contributed photo

BRIDGEPORT — Former Fairfield chief financial officer Robert Mayer has cost town taxpayers a total of more than $4 million and his alleged lack of oversight led to violations later discovered in the rebuilding of the Penfield Pavilion, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick stated in a letter submitted to a Superior Court judge this week.

“In the rebuilding of the town’s Penfield Pavilion after Storm Sandy, Mr. Mayer was responsible for the compliance of the rebuilding efforts to all regulatory agencies. As details of the fill pile scandal emerged, it was discovered the contaminated fill pile material was used under the new pavilion,” Kupchick’s letter states.

In the letter, Kupchick linked the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s refusal to reimburse the town $4 million for the rebuilding of the pavilion to the hazardous materials.

However, in FEMA’s letter denying the reimbursement — issued in November 2018, months before the first arrests in the fill pile scandal the following year — the agency claimed that the pavilion doesn’t comply with floodplain management regulations and has horizontal grade beams “above the natural grade and below the base flood elevation.”

“The town has also recently been advised that the building was built in violation of various coastal regulations, leaving the town with an undetermined financial liability,” Kupchik’s letter states. “This scandal’s financial ramifications has already cost the taxpayers millions and will undoubtedly cost millions more before the situation is resolved completely.”

In court on Tuesday, for the first time, a state prosecutor linked the alleged actions of Mayer, who is accused of stealing documents from his office after he was fired by Kupchick, with the fill pile scandal.

Both Kupchick, in her letter, and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tamberlyn Chapman, allege that Mayer was part of the conspiracy with four other former town employees to store hazardous materials from a local developer on town property. They claim that some of this material was put under the Penfield Pavilion, a popular wedding venue on Penfield Beach.

“Mr. Mayer, as the chief financial officer, was in a position of trust and confidence for many years. As CFO he was responsible for all financial decisions for the town and during his tenure, the worst public corruption scandal in the history of the town of Fairfield unfolded,” Kupchick’s letter states.

Both Mayer and his lawyer, Richard Meehan Jr., denied the allegations on Tuesday. Meehan claimed that his client took non-public documents from his former office to use for his resume. They declined requests for comment.

The 79-year-old Mayer, of New Canaan, is charged with 16 counts, including third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, evidence tampering and second-degree forgery. On Tuesday he applied for accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial probation program that could result in the charges against him being dismissed. The hearing was continued to Aug. 2.

Letters were also submitted in support of Mayer.

Among the letters of support was one from former First Selectman Michael Tetreau, who hired Mayer as CFO, and another from retired Police Chief Chris Liddy whose letter was written on Fairfield Police Department letterhead.

Liddy’s letter provoked one in response from current Police Chief Robert Kalamaras.

“Please do not confuse the misrepresentation of town letterhead by retired Chief Chris Lyddy’s letter of reference with the position of the department or my position on the matter,” Kalamaras wrote. “The Fairfield Police Department’s position is very clear that Mr. Mayor should be held accountable for his crimes and not be considered for accelerated rehabilitation.”