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DA: Former Southold justice clerk stole $50K for groceries, pet food, and cigarettes

SoutholdLOCAL photo by Emil Breitenbach Jr.

A former Southold Town senior justice court clerk who surrendered on Friday and was arraigned at Suffolk County criminal court pleaded not guilty to felony charges after an assistant district attorney said she stole “in excess of” $50,000 in bail and other fees from Town Hall to buy groceries, pet food, and cigarettes.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, New Suffolk resident Christine Stulsky, who was employed with Southold Town for 34 years before the town board accepted her resignation on Tuesday, is “suspected of stealing bail and other monies she was entrusted with.”

Prosecutor Melisa Bliss said Stulsky, who appeared in court dressed in a black sweater and leggings, is charged with one count of grand larceny in the second degree, a felony, one count of defrauding the government, a felony and one count of official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

Judge James Hudson set bail at $5,000 cash and $10,000 bond; Stulsky had a bail bondman at the arraignment.

Hudson  said he had known Stulsky in his previous post as a district attorney in 1984; neither the ADA nor Stulsky’s attorney had issue with his serving as judge assigned to the case.

Stulsky was represented by Riverhead attorney John Strode. Next steps, he said, involve conferencing with the DA and the judge. Strode said his client was a lifetime resident of Suffolk County; she signed her bail documents in the courtroom as a courtesy, officials said.

The next court conference is slated for May 27.

After the proceedings, Stulsky’s two daughters, tears in their eyes, embraced their mother.

“I’m okay,” Stulsky told them.

According to Bliss, Stulsky’s duties as the senior justice court clerk included the collection and deposit of fines generated by the closure of court cases and the reconciliation and prompt deposit of bail funds.

The analysis of the “voluminous paper and electronic records reflecting the suspect’s management of the money” continues, Spota said. “We are fortunate to have in the office meticulous professionals with investigative skills who are trained in forensic accounting and they have found evidence of asset misappropriation in this ongoing investigation,” Spota said.

The Southold town board accepted Stulsky’s resignation on Tuesday, effective March 19.

 Editor’s note: Previously published reports incorrectly stated the amount of the alleged theft.