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Judge rules in favor of Waterbury on benefits payment

Dec. 30, 2013
By Michael Puffer, Republican-American

WATERBURY — The city has won a big victory in its fight against paying unemployment benefits to a school carpentry foreman fired in 2010 under allegations of misdeeds.

In addition to $56,417 in compensation for a work-related injury, former schools employee Michael Angurio received $12,974 in unemployment benefits after he was fired in May 2010.

On Dec. 18, Superior Court Judge Vincent Roche ruled in favor of the city, overturning an earlier decision by the Connecticut Employment Security Appeals Division granting unemployment compensation.

The state agency had earlier ruled the city failed to prove "willful misconduct" on Angurio's part.

"This shows the dedication of the city to pursue cases when it appropriately disciplines," Corporation Counsel Linda Wihbey said.

Attempts to reach Angurio on Friday were unsuccessful. He does not have a listed Waterbury area telephone number. Angurio was also not an active participant in this most recent case.

The Employment Security Appeals Division was represented by the state Attorney General's office. A spokesperson for the office could not say Friday whether the agency would appeal.

Angurio was fired by School Superintendent David Snead in May 2010 after twice signing off on a $9,750 window repair at Kingsbury Elementary school that was never actually completed. He was also faulted for the disappearance of expensive tools in his department, for never returning a borrowed jackhammer and for disabling a GPS device intended to track the movements of his work truck. Angurio collected workers' compensation after being fired. He also collected $12,974 in unemployment between Nov. 27, 2011, and May 26, 2012. The unemployment figure would have been higher, but the city discovered it had overpaid Angurio for years prior to his termination.

Wihbey said the city has filed a protest of unemployment costs with the state Department of Labor, which will provide the city with a credit of $12,974. This will happen regardless of the state's ability to recover money from Angurio, Wihbey said.

She said city attorneys worked many hours on the case, but couldn't estimate a cost for that effort, as these attorneys divide their time among many matters.

"That cost is worth it if we want to hold employees accountable," Wihbey said.
 

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