Former councilor sentenced to prison

Former city councilor and attorney, Jodi Zils Gagne, 43, of Bristol was given a 46 month sentence followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford.

Gagne was sentenced for stealing more than $169,000 from individuals for whom she served as a court-appointed conservator, reported a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office of the District of Connecticut.

According to court documents and statements made in court, the press release said, Zils Gagne, an attorney, was a court-appointed conservator for several individuals in Connecticut.

The release explained a conservator is a person appointed by the probate court to oversee the financial or personal affairs of an adult who is incapable of managing his or her finances or unable to care for himself or herself.

Beginning in approximately May 2015, according to the Department of Justice, Zils Gagne defrauded several conserved individuals by misappropriating their money and overbilling them. The money that Zils Gagne misappropriated was intended for the conserved persons’ medical care, housing, bills, personal expenses, and legitimate conservator fees.  Zils Gagne also misrepresented, or failed to disclose, material facts about her conservatorship activities to the Bristol probate court and others, said the release.

Through this scheme, the justice department said, Zils Gagne defrauded six victims of a total of $169,402.74. She defrauded one elderly victim of approximately $136,000, and appropriated $113,000 of that money under the guise of an “investment” when, in fact, it was a 10-year note that paid only a prime rate and was signed between her (as the victim’s conservator) and Zils Gagne’s husband, said the Justice Department. The money was used to fund her husband’s start-up company, a Bristol-based internet radio station, Bristol Beat.

The terms and details of this transaction were only disclosed after extended proceedings in the probate court, during which Zils Gagne repeatedly lied, sometimes under oath, to the probate court, said the Justice Department.

The investigation also revealed that Zils Gagne arranged the sale of two victims’ houses to her relative for less than the appraised value of the homes, said the news release.  The buyer than renovated the homes, sold them for a substantial profit, and paid Zils Gagne and her husband kickbacks.

On Oct. 10, 2018, Zils Gagne pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Judge Bryant ordered Zils Gagne, who is released on a $50,000 bond, to report to prison on July 8.

In September 2018, a Connecticut Superior Court judge suspended Zils Gagne from the practice of law.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department, with the assistance of the Connecticut Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel and the New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David T. Huang.