A Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles employee is accused of pocketing nearly $80,000 in state sales tax payments from registrant cash transactions, state police said.
Kimberly Brown, of Bridgeport, is accused of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community and forgery.
On Aug. 8, Brown was assigned to work directly in front of the Bridgeport branch manager's desk and around 4:15 p.m., Brown requested a registration void for a large cash transaction with no customer standing at the counter. According to authorities, the branch manager asked Brown for the registration certificate in order to complete the void but Brown said she couldn't find it. Ultimately, the branch manager believed Brown was stealing the voided cash transactions and reported her suspicions to her manager.
Ten days later, police went to meet with DMV supervisors after a motor vehicle specialist, Brown, was suspected of stealing a large amount of cash as a result of voided sales tax transactions relating to filling vehicle registrations by private citizens at the Bridgeport DMV.
Brown, who worked 10 years for the DMV, exploited a loophole with the DMV registration process, according to police. When Brown was assigned to customer service, she would process a registration application through the DMV computerized database. If the customer paid in cash, Brown would process the transaction normally, however, at some point, she would alter the registrant's "Connecticut Registration and Title Application"- a state of Connecticut form provided to Brown by the registrant during the initial registration process- and/or the "Bill of Sale" form to reflect the vehicle had been purchased or gifted from an "Immediate Family Member", according to the arrest warrant provided by police.
The DMV division branch manager told police that as part of the DMV registration process, the registrant of a motor vehicle is under no obligation to provide personnel with any type of documentation proving the vehicle in question qualifies for a sales tax exemption. Simply by signifying that the vehicle was given to the registrant by an immediate family member was sufficient proof, according to police documents.
Brown would alter the forms to reflect the vehicle was gifted by a brother, mother, sister or father on the forms in order to obtain the sales tax exemption. Other times, Brown would not alter the forms but would falsify the Void Sheet Correction Form and present it to a supervisor in order to reprocess the transaction. Only DMV supervisors can grant a void and this would allow Brown to reprocess the transaction and remove the sales tax money.
The police warrant said Brown would seek out one of the four different supervisors at various times to avoid her suspicious actions from being detected by management.
Police were provided with 56 registration packets for 2016 that were flagged as having voided sales tax cash transactions in Brown's employee account. The discrepancy was discovered by Brown's immediate supervisor after an initial internal computerized Void and Audit report, which determined a large amount of voided cash transactions were completed.
"It appeared that when Brown did the first transaction, she would collect all the necessary fees. Then she would have a member of the management team perform a void, when she did the transaction the second time, she would not charge sales tax, but would usually state that it was a transfer between family members, or other reason for tax exempt," the Bridgeport division branch manager told police on September 7, according to the arrest warrant.
The branch manager also implemented a Void and Audit report for Brown's actions between May 1, 2015 and August 12, 2017. Police determined that Brown stole $79,907 in total.
On Aug. 24, 2017, Brown was interviewed by police. She said she was moved from the Norwalk branch to the Bridgeport branch in May 2015 and demoted from Head Motor Vehicle Examiner back to Motor Vehicle Specialist. She told police this was unfair and the DMV accused her of constantly mishandling money. She said when the DMV revamped their entire computerized database, her job became more stressful and she wouldn't leave work sometimes until 11 p.m. When she had applied for short-term disability because of knee and stomach surgery, she was denied and told police she starting to fall behind on her bills, according to the arrest warrant.
"I didn't want to do it but being in this depression and trying to commit suicide will make you desperate to try and survive when you get back up I know I was wrong and didn't realize then what my reactions would do to my life," she allegedly told police, according to the warrant. "Taking something that was not mine was wrong and I'm sorry I did it."
Brown was arrested and arraigned on Thursday. Her bond was set at $80,000.
"Our hundreds of employees are diligent and dedicated to upholding the public’s trust. People who betray that trust will be held fully accountable for their actions. It is absolutely unacceptable to betray that trust. Our hard-working employees strive diligently every day to do their jobs well and are committed to customer service," DMV Commissioner Michael R. Bzdyra said in a statement.
CORRECTION at 7:10 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2017: An earlier version of this story noted that Brown accused the DMV of mishandling money but DMV had accused Brown of mishandling money. This has been corrected.