February 22, 2019
By Dominic J Bartolone
Contributing Editor, Fraud Friday
Fraud Friday – East Haven School Board Chairman Indicted for $1.5 Million Fraud
East Haven, Connecticut former mayoral candidate and school board chairman, John T. Finkle III, has been charged with defrauding an Illinois company of more than $1.5 million.
Finkle was arraigned Feb. 13 in Connecticut District Court, where the grand jury returned a seven-count indictment alleging that Finkle, 57, Steven C. Gold, 46, of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and Kenneth J. Pedroli, 59, of Stony Brook, New York, plotted to defraud an electronic component company.
According to the indictment, Finkle and Gold were employed by an Illinois-based supplier of electronic components, which was identified only as “Company A.” Gold ran the accounting and billing systems for the company, while Finkle was in sales. Mr. Pedroli owned a company in Islandia, New York, and purchased components from Company A.
Between February 2015 and December 2018, Finkle, Gold, and Pedroli hatched a scheme to defraud the company through purchases made by Pedroli’s company. As part of the plan, Finkle advised Pedroli to place orders and list the prices at only a fraction of Company A’s true prices.
Pedroli placed orders with Company A, and the products were shipped directly to his company in New York. Finkle then instructed Pedroli to pay only a portion of the invoice, but to pay it directly to Finkle. Pedroli ultimately wrote checks to Finkle which he deposited in his personal account.
The indictment also alleges that Finkle instructed Gold to apply phony credits to the Pedroli’s invoices in order to reduce the total amount that was due Company A. Finkle then made payments to Gold, which he deposited in his personal bank account.
According to documents, the company was defrauded of over $1.5 million, with Finkle profiting more than $500,000 from the scheme.
The indictment charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and charges Finkle with two counts of wire fraud, Gold with two counts of wire fraud, and Pedroli with two counts of mail fraud. Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Finkle is also under investigation for a scandal at home, with federal investigators looking into the East Haven Public Schools “Little Jackets” preschool program.
The East Haven Town Attorney, Josh Balter, said in a written statement that Finkle should step down from his position with the city. “With Mr. Finkle’s arrest for committing over $1.5 million in fraud coupled with his wife’s firing from the Little Jackets program for alleged mishandling of funds,” it “destroys any trust the people of East Haven may have in him,” Balter said. “For the good of the town, he must resign now.”