Daniel Valentine, 45, of Merryall Road, New Milford, was arraigned in state Superior Court in Danbury on Wednesday on five counts of first-degree larceny and two counts of second-degree larceny.
Valentine, who oversaw the construction of Squeaky's Car Wash on Newtown Road and ran the business, allegedly embezzled the money by writing checks to fictitious contractors or builders who had actually done work for the business, endorsed them himself and then deposited the proceeds into his own account, according to Danbury police.
Between December 2007 and June 2008, he stole in excess of $221,000, police said.
Court documents identified the investors in Squeaky's as church Pastor Frank Santora Jr.; his father, Frank Santora Sr.; Rick DuBois, who is Frank Santora Jr.'s father-in-law; and two men who became silent partners after the car wash began experiencing financial problems, Chris Mullen and Steve Payuk.
Frank Santora Jr. couldn't be reached for comment on Wednesday. His secretary at the church said he was out of state.
Each of the original investors put up $150,000, while the silent partners each contributed $100,000, according to court documents. Because of construction delays and cost overruns, Santora Jr. contributed an additional $50,000, his father put in another $126,000 and DuBois invested an additional $175,000, police said. Valentine, the "operating manager," made no financial commitment, court documents said.
Last year, Santora Jr. told police the investors became suspicious of the way Valentine was handling the finances, specifically that he had encumbered the car wash in order to obtain a personal loan. As a result, Valentine signed over his share of the business to them, police said.
Santora Jr. also told police that after several contractors learned that Valentine was no longer associated with the business, they told the partners that he hadn't yet paid them for some of the work they'd done.
That tally came to another $82,000.
One of the contractors, Ernie Dachenhausen, of Danbury, admitted that he gave Valentine bills in excess of the actual amount of work performed, police said. Dachenhausen would then kick back the extra funds to Valentine, police said.
Valentine was unable to post the $25,000 bond set by the judge on Wednesday, and remains in custody pending another court appearance on Aug. 4.
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