Robin vonReyn is one resident who is glad the FBI is now involved with town hall business.
Last Wednesday, the FBI shut down Bridgewater Town Hall and executed a search warrant. Files taken included Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance meeting minutes and records of the Burnham Fund, a charitable trust created in the 1920s, according to Board of Finance Chairwoman Nancy Hawley.
Ms. vonReyn was a recipient of assistance through the fund.
A single mother of two teenagers, Ms. vonReyn said Monday that she has felt "embarrassed" and "personally violated" since allegations arose in 2009 about Burnham Fund disbursements.
"Now maybe some action will be taken," Ms. vonReyn said. "My personal life has been violated. I haven't been questioned by the FBI, but I welcome them coming to me."
Ms. vonReyn received $2,500 in assistance from the fund in 2007. Her financial situation became public knowledge when George Allingham, then chairman of the finance board, charged First Selectman Bill Stuart with mismanaging the fund.
Mr. Allingham called for an investigation by the state Attorney General's office.
"George Allingham has been talking about some kind of fraud," Mr. Stuart said last week. "He's been talking about it for years. They want to destroy my reputation. That's what they want to do."
Earlier this week, Ms. vonReyn defended her receipt of town assistance.
"There was absolutely nothing inappropriate in my receiving this assistance," she said when contacted at her home. "I didn't know anything about who ran the Burnham Fund until it was in the papers during the last investigation.
"I had approached the town, asking for assistance. I'm caught up in this political feud. At first it bothered me, now I'm just upset for my kids who are going through this."
Ms. vonReyn said she was in jeopardy of losing her house when Mr. Stuart released money through the fund to meet fuel, grocery and other basic expenses for her family. Now, working two jobs, she is still facing foreclosure on her home, she said.
"I'm still holding on, hoping the bank will reduce my mortgage payments," Ms. vonReyn said.
Adding to her sense of violation, Ms. vonReyn said, her confidential records on file with Social Services in the town were rifled through in 2009 by someone who remains unknown.
Social Services Agent for the Elderly Debbie Kuchinsky confirmed earlier this week that Ms. vonReyn's file had been rifled through.
"They were gone through, unfortunately," said Ms. Kuchinsky, who also served as the Social Services agent at the time. "I went in on a Saturday to get some work done and found Robin's paperwork in disarray."
The Burnham Fund is a town-held trust established in 1925 from a bequest by William D. Burnham to assist residents in times of financial hardship.
During his 29-year tenure, Mr. Stuart has had sole management of the funds until December 2008 when a new policy was adopted. In February, a joint committee consisting of members of the boards of selectmen and finance was given fund oversight at the recommendation of the state's Attorney General.
The Attorney General's office has an ongoing investigation into earlier disbursements from the Burnham Fund.