From the Journal Inquirer
Zachary F. Vasile
27 June 2018
STAFFORD -- Town officials are considering their options following the arrest of Selectman Anthony Frassinelli this week, namely whether the former first selectman can continue to serve on the community’s highest elected board as he awaits the disposition of his case.
Frassinelli, who served as first selectman from 2015 to 2017, was charged Monday with altering records and third-degree computer crime after a monthslong investigation by state police concluded that he tried to wipe a town-owned desktop computer before leaving office. Town leaders are now examining legal avenues, since local ordinances do not specifically address what should happen when a selectman is charged with a felony offense, but has not been convicted of any crime.
“I don’t know where we stand right now,” First Selectwoman Mary Mitta said Tuesday of the three-member board. “Nothing like this has ever happened before.”
Mitta, who called the problem unprecedented, said she has spoken with Town Attorney Edward Muska since the arrest and will now work to determine how best to proceed given the circumstances.
“I’ll be investigating further what we should do,” she said.
The first selectwoman also said she is advising caution and noted that it is the job of the courts, not town officials, to litigate the matter.
“People are innocent until proven guilty,” Mitta said. “At this point it’s too soon to really know how to move forward.”
Town ordinances give the Board of Selectmen the power to remove members and alternates of other boards they have appointed if the official in question is no longer eligible for the position, has been convicted of a felony, has not attended four consecutive meetings of their respective committee, or has “engaged in any corrupt or fraudulent activity with respect to his conduct as a member or alternate of the board or commission (pending legal outcome).”
It is not clear, however, if the Board of Selectmen can exercise this power on its own elected members.
Muska could not be reached for comment.
John N. Locke Sr., the third member of the Board of Selectmen, also could not be reached for comment.
According to an affidavit supporting his arrest, Frasinelli was the last person to leave Town Hall on his last day as first selectman in November 2017. The very next day, Mitta, who won the office by a slim margin, and town staff discovered that the hard drive from the first selectman’s desktop computer had been entirely erased, with over 8,000 files temporarily lost.
The town’s information technology director was eventually able to restore the lost records.
Investigators have not identified a motive behind the purge of town files but did say they found thumbnail images of adult pornography on the recovered hard drive.
At any rate, Mitta said, the Board of Selectmen can continue to meet with or without Frassinelli, since the board needs only a quorum of two members to conduct town business. Frassinelli has been absent from meetings before, she said, and, should he no longer attend, the same quorum rules would continue to apply.
And while town officials will continue to look at legal options regarding Frassinelli’s continued public service, Mitta said she plans to keep her focus on town matters and not shine a prolonged spotlight on an issue she has no control over.
“At this point, I have a town to run, so we will continue to move forward,” she said. “It’s my job to protect this community.”
Frassinelli has not spoken publicly about his arrest or indicated whether or not he will resign.
The former first selectman could not be reached by phone for comment Tuesday and, on the day of his arrest, a Facebook page he used to interact with members of the community and stream videos of town meetings disappeared.
Mitta said that, as of Tuesday morning, she had not spoken with Frassinelli.
Watch the second episode of "What's New in Stafford" as First Selectwoman Mary Mitta talks about the town budget!
Watch the first episode of "What's New In Stafford" with First Selectwoman Mary Mitta below!
The Stafford Republican Town Committee will hold its semi-annual caucus to vote on members of the committee.
The meeting will be held on Monday, January 15th at 7 p.m. in the Veteran's Room at Warren Memorial Town Hall. All registered Republicans in Stafford are welcome to attend.
In what became a wild and uncertain fight to the finish, First Selectman-elect Mary Mitta was declared the victor after besting incumbent Tony Frassinelli by 9 votes.
After voting irregularities Tuesday night sent the race in flux after the Democrat first selectman initially conceded, a recount on Friday reaffirmed the results of the race, giving Republican Mary Mitta a slim lead, 1436 - 1427.
Mary will join Frassinelli and John Locke, who won a decisive victory, on Stafford's now Republican controlled Board of Selectman later this month. She is the first woman to hold the office of First Selectman in the town's history.
Stafford Republicans would like to also congratulate Tony Pellegrino (Board of Finance), Cindy Rummel (Planning and Zoning Commission), Andrea Locke (Board of Education), and all the other candidates for their hard work and dedication towards making Stafford a better place to live.
Thank you to our supporters, campaign workers, and voters. We look forward to building a better Stafford and once and for all returning proactive leadership to town hall.
Election day is tomorrow, November 7th. It is imperative that you go vote for the Stafford Republican team and the Mitta-Locke ticket on Row B.
Voting hours are from 6 am-8 pm. For information on where to vote and election day registration, click here.
For a ride to the polls, please contact Matt McKenney at email@example.com.
Thank you for your support and we hope you join us for victory tomorrow night!
Read candidate for First Selectman Mary Mitta's inspirational letter to the editor in the Journal Inquirer below!
Trick or Treat on Main St. (Saturday, October 28th 3 to 7pm)
Come and meet Mary Mitta, John Locke the 2017 Republican Slate and RTC members during Trick or Treat on Main Street!
The Republican duck will be there too giving out balloons and candy for the kids.
See you there!
Meet and Greet With Republican Candidates (Wednesday, November 1st 6 to 8pm)
Come meet Stafford Republican candidates and get some cider from the Stafford Cidery, along with pizza.
Election Day (Tuesday, November 7th 6am to 8pm)
Upwards of fifty Republicans gathered at our fundraiser this past Saturday at LV's House of Boost. Complete with drinks, barbeque, and great music, Stafford Republicans enjoyed a successful night as we move forward in our quest to take back Stafford.
Browse the pictures below from our fundraiser:
Stafford Republicans have called for a "meet and greet" to be held between all municipal candidates and town residents to foster an effective political discussion. Read the statement below on our vision for a better and more transparent election process:
We have been asked by many people about finding a way to get the residents of Stafford to connect with the candidates for our Municipal election. In lieu of a debate, we would like to have a “meet the candidates” open house type forum where the candidates from all opposing parties will be present. Many residents have approached us with questions, not only for the First Selectman candidates, but candidates for the other offices and where they stand on specific topics.
We feel that this would be the perfect opportunity for the residents to be able to approach any candidate and ask their specific question or to just meet them face to face. This is a fresh, new approach to introduce all of the candidates that are running for a Municipal Office.
A debate does not give the voters enough representation and they may not have their specific questions answered. Our goal is, and always should be, to connect and listen to ANY resident that has a concern or question. Collectively we all are striving toward the same goal. Do what is best for Stafford, always!
We have already invited the Democratic Town Committee to participate in this type of forum and when a date and time have been arranged we will let the public know.