For two decades, L. Mark Hurley had been a Connecticut prosecutor. Now he’s being prosecuted by his employer. On April 16, Hurley, a resident of Trumbull, turned himself in at the state police barracks in Bethany after learning of several outstanding warrants for his arrest covering nearly 200 counts of second-degree forgery, two counts of first-degree larceny, and two counts of fifth-degree larceny. Of the more than $60,000 Hurley is accused of stealing, nearly $30,000 came from the state prosecutors union for which he served as treasurer. He was released after posting $100,000 bail.
Since 1986, Hurley, 48, had served as a state prosecutor and since 1995 as supervisory state’s attorney for the Ansonia-Milford District. The investigation was triggered by a meeting between Hurley and his boss, Kevin Lawlor. One day Lawlor stopped to speak with Hurley, and noticed him holding an envelope containing partly visible postal money orders. Lawlor put it this way in a sworn statement: “Mr. Hurley was extremely startled as I spoke; he had not seen me standing there. He jumped and immediately put the money orders fully in the envelope and placed it in the upper desk drawer and shut the drawer. I did not ask him about the money orders, but found his actions strange.” Apparently, he found them strange enough to look inside Hurley’s desk the next day. His suspicions were borne out. Lawlor found four as-yet cashed money orders. He made copies of the money orders and asked an inspector to conduct a probe. Hurley, unaware he was now a target, deposited the money orders into his bank account.
Hurley resigned his post in March 2007, a month after knowledge of the investigation became public. He admitted to a detective that he’d forged his name on two of the money orders and deposited them into his account, adding that these were the only instances in which he did so. Yet detectives subsequently discovered that he deposited the other two money orders as well. Eventually a larger pattern of theft came to light. Prosecutors accused him of endorsing to himself money orders intended as restitution for crime victims; stealing charitable donations totaling $33,892 that defendants in motor vehicle cases in return for dropping charges; and embezzling funds the prosecutors’ union. As union treasurer for 16 years, Hurley had sole control over disbursements. Union President Brian Preleski in a sworn statement said that he’d been approached by Hurley’s attorney, Edward Gavin, who admitted his client had “misappropriated” somewhere between $18,000 and $21,000 over a period of 18 months, and that Hurley wanted to repay the union. Hurley subsequently sent a check in the amount of $24,250. A subsequent audit revealed the total was $28,900.
Apparently Hurley had serious credit card debts, despite an annual salary of $112,452. Given his substantial reimbursement, Hurley might well be offered leniency. Still, authorities aren’t taking this case lightly. “The allegations against Mr. Hurley are serious and go to the heart of our criminal justice system,” said Lawlor. “Mr. Hurley is presumed innocent. If these charges are proven, however, justice needs to be served.” (Hartford Courant, 4/17/08; New Haven Register, 4/17/08).