Last month, I posted a story about Mansion Clam House. Owner Soozi Folsom had cut through months of red tape, mowing unkempt grass on a state-owned strip between her popular seafood restaurant, and nearby Bridge Street.
“06880” readers praised Soozi for her initiative, and promised to head to Mansion for meals.
Yesterday, news broke that Soozi pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.3 million, over 3 years, from 3 foundations. In addition to owning the restaurant, she worked as an office manager at a Westport accounting firm.
Immediately, readers commented on my month-old post.
“Jobo” asked: “Is this the same Soozi Folsom who stole $1.3 million from charities? Shame on yoo, and your ridiculous name, Soozi.”
“Sick of Hippocrates” — who may actually have been sick of “hypocrites” — presumably referred to me when he or she wrote:
Nice article which once again shows how some individuals in Westport have poor judgement and support people who are not morally or ethically sound. Soozi Folsom is an embezzler but you assumed she was great because Why????? Poor judgement on your part, once again…thats why.
And “Shun” vowed not to eat at Mansion Clam House: “Embezzling all that money, she no longer needs my business at the Mansion!”
I’m not sure that the way Soozi spells her name is relevant.
I don’t know how I — or anyone else — could have known she was embezzling money when we praised her restaurant for providing a public service.
But I do know that not eating at Mansion is not the best way to express disappointment and disgust. All it will do is hurt the innocent men and women who work there — and who no doubt share most Westporters’ sadness at yesterday’s news.
Before condemning anyone, let them be found guilty. I always thought you were innocent until proven guilty.
Nick, this person pleaded guilty.
Anti-Hippocrates? That’s like booing Santa Claus.
When we were at the Slice of Saugatuck this weekend, my son asked me why we never ate at Mansion. I said we would do that soon. And we will.
I used to have interaction with Soozi in her professional capacity, and enjoyed working with her. I found her accessible, vivacious, and highly competent. I’m so saddened by this news. I know it’s hard not to judge, but “when good people do bad things,” it’s because something inside them is broken. I’m sorry for her suffering, and the suffering she’s caused others.
When I read a story like this, I feel only compassion. Financial pressure can do terrible things to people.
Are you kidding yourself “financial pressure” is being jobless or homeless
Not owning a resturant,selling real estate, working in a private cpa firm
living in Westport. Are you deluded? She stole from charities 1.4 million dollars over 4 years!!
Good people!! How about GREEDY plain and simple!!!!
A few month ago, my wife and I ate there with some good friends who have been loyal customers and introduced us to the Mansion…we sensed that something was wrong given the demeanor of the staff. This is an example of desperate people doing desperate things and a sign of the times. As a trustee of a foundation…I find her actions reprehensible..but she will serve her time and hopefully as Uh…pointed out she will fix what is broken inside her and learn that her actions had grave consequences all around. I feel for those that work at the Mansion who may lose there job over this. For those who somehow think Dan is a Hippocrate…well get a life and your judgement is almost as warped as Soozi’s. How he or most people would have known at the time he posted the first blog…is well..beyond me. You need to fix your point of view.
Since she’ll have to pay restitution and go sit in Danbury for a while I expect the Mansion Clam House will soon be up for sale. Let’s hope someone quickly scoops it up and continues its great tradition and it doesn’t turn into another Three Bears.
I think Saugatuck needs an orthodox temple.
Shouldn’t the Foundations put a claim on her assets for restitution of the embezzled funds? It seems that since she embezzled the money to keep the restaurant afloat during hard times the three Foundations unwittingly became investors in her for profit business. Wouldn’t the Mansion and the employees be better served if the business were sold to a new restauranteur (assuming an interested and qualified party could be found)?
I too am puzzled by the new comments about the earlier blog post, but the comments posted here often reflect a disconnect between brain and keyboard.
I am supposed to feel bad because this woman was “broken inside”? Are you kidding me?
She embezzled $1.385 million over a 3 year period. That is $450,000 a year. Financial dificulties, give me a break. Times are tough, but “good people” do not use that as an excuse to be greedy and steal OPM.
What she did was wrong and should be called out as such.
I didn’t mean to suggest you feel anything, Shun; just relaying my own feelings and beliefs. I get the sense that you really value personal responsibility and living by a moral code, and I respect that. At the same time, I’ve noticed that people are more likely to do the “wrong thing” when they are scared, lonely, broken (“psychopathic”), or otherwise in pain themselves. I don’t say this to excuse their actions (which are often, as Jamie Walsh points out, reprehensible), but because I mourn the pain/fear/whatever it was in Ms. Folsom that was so bad that she thought embezzlement was even an option.
Woman knew full well what she was doing… for three years basically every work week she writes herself a check to her own LLC for $11,000 while messing with the accounting software to cover things up. No excuse here!
Anonymous, your statements might be taken seriously if you at identified yourself and how you are so completely aware that she knew exactly what she was doing under a situation of extreme duress. And tell me, I’d your children were starving and you had no way to feed then, would you do the same? Or would you let them die? I am in NO WAY suggesting this is the case with Soozie, as evidence suggests she was not starving or otherwise in physical harm, but I think it is a fair question to ask. If you had access to money that wasn’t yours, would you take it to keep your children from starving? Or would you stand by your moral code and watch them die?
I mean, give her a break. It’s the American way, except she got caught. Deep down in places they never talk about at parties, most of the people who are judging her wouldn’t turn down a free dinner at the Mansion and couldn’t wait for it to digest before weighing in on Dan’s blog with an opinion.
Fortunately, there are a lot of other good restaurants in the area that are owned by honest, law-abiding people. I will support them and hope that the employees at Mansion are hired by them. I have lots of choices and limited money, and I chose to spend it at places that aren’t owned by thieves.
Uh.. I could not agree more.
It was wrong and shocking !
However many of us know the person behind the name , and wish her an opportunity to serve her time , and make it right.
We do not excuse it , but want to understand it .
Seana R. Gaherin
Former classmate & current restaurant owner ..
It is a shame Soozi got caught up in this mess. Yes, she knew what she was doing, yes, she got caught, yes, she admitted guilt, yes, she is cooperating and trying to “make it right” (or at least less wrong), and yes, she will pay dearly for this mistake (as have the foundations and her former employer). Soozi grew up in this town, and became part of the business community. She is basically a good kid who made a big, big mistake. So now she will join the ranks of other Westporters who got caught and went to jail – Stew Leonard, Sr., Martha Stewart, Rajat Gupta, Abe Fortes (he didn’t go to jail, but he should of), etc. (for extra points, name other infamous Westporters, past and present).
“Making it right” with the Feds is not pretty.
What was his first name? The Gold’s Deli guy who went after Paul Newman for “his share” of the profits from a non-profit entity. Do you want lox on that crow sandwich? hahahahahaha!!!!
Julius Gold brought civil suit against Paul Newman and attorney Nevas. His evidence was inadmissible and his lawsuit was dismissed. His case has nothing in common with this or any other criminal case (except for maybe the food angle)
We were just talking about infamous Westporters I think.
What’s infamous about standing up for your rights if you think you’ve been wronged? Julius ran a great business, left a wonderful legacy, and his wife was one of Westport’s all time greatest educators.
You’re right. It was a great strategy. Work your whole life to build one of the world’s greatest delis, marry a wonderful woman who was a highly regarded educator and then cap it all off by taking Paul Newman to court over who was REALLY responsible for Newman’s Own. I stand corrected.
Not only are you anonymous, but you are also someone willing to slander a principled, deceased person by placing him in the same category as convicted and admitted criminals. You seem also willing to besmirch his reputation and offend his many friends and family members by your ignorant, sloppy and Ill-informed dispargements. You are an ignoramus, a coward, and a blowhard.
The article that you provided the link to begs the question as to why you didn’t speak out on his behalf at the time. The event in question was national laughingstock as it becomes once again thanks to your belated and unnecessary defense. Re-read your last comment while looking in the mirror.
Mr. Gold was winning the first trial before a convenient mistrial. He had a legitimate beef, the second jury felt differently. Only a shallow fool would reference Mr. Gold in the context of this post. Quit while you are way behind… please.
Only a shallow fool would try to defend another one’s attempt to use the legal system for personal monetary gain from a local celebrity whose intent and accomplishment was to enjoy life and to fund charity in whatever order you prefer.
Scott and Patty Shields, who used to run the dress shop in Colonial Green, both did time for 9/11 fraud (embezzlement of federal funds) via the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation. And Scott’s dog, Bear, had never been trained as a rescue dog.
That’s a lot of clams to embezzle!
Okay, now, that’s funny!
Maybe she’ll be sentenced to serve at Clambury Penn State with Jerry “The Soap Dropper.”
Yes, as putting her in prison with a child rapist is clearly the right thing to do.
What in the world did Soozi do with her ill gotten gains? She didn’t invest in The Mansion Clam House for sure. Send her to Folsom State!
Its a huge loss for the charities and sadly no way they can get restitution.
When it comes to tax fraud such as Stew Leonard or with any case involving food, I would not put anything in my mouth that is connected to cheats and thieves.
And I’m sure you are completely without any skeletons in your closet. It is usually the ones that are quick to point out how morally superior they are who end up being guilty of the worst crimes.
Diverting $17 million in cash to become a tax fraud like Stew Leonard and embezzling $1.3 million like Soozi are felonies not skeletons.
Put into your mouth what you like. The hands of thieves and crooks stays away from mine.
And again, you must have very little to eat. I would suggest growing your own food.
How do you know?
And you might want to consider never eating any product endorsed by the USDA if that is the case.
Or using food stamps.
She did the crime, she’ll do the time, and one hopes that the Mansion House’s fried clams will somehow make it through OK.
Wow. If my meomory is correct, the Mansion Clam House was a subject of interest in the past solely due to landscaping issues, 1.3 MILLION embezzeled??? Are you kidding me?? From charitable organizations??Way to go Soozi!! How much did they charge for the lobster anyway? And due to her economic distress, does she qualify as the 47% of Americans that Mitt Romney claims requires governmental support??
She redistributed wealth, that makes her a Democrat.
She stole from the middle class, that makes her a Republican.
To be precise, she stole from charities, and that would make her a Democrat.
Dan, again I love your post! As a newcomer, it is refreshing to see such honesty and integrity in this town. I heard about this and it made me very sad. Yes, I believe people should be held accountable for their actions. This sounds like a situation that got out of hand really fast. When people are very desperate, and I don’t know if Soozie had a family, but that adds even more desperation, they are capable of doing almost anything to protect themselves and try to fix the situation. What started out as an attempt to take a few hundred dollars seems to have skyrocketed out of control. Once you get away with it once, it probably becomes increasingly easier each time. You become a bit too confident, and before long, look what happened! I’m in no way excusing her actions, but judgement…it is a funny thing. What is so clearly reprehensible to us righ now, as we sit comfortably in our homes with our families, may not be so cut and dry if we were faced with losing everything we own. My ex-landlord, for instance, is in bankruptcy court right now for the fifth time. She is notorious for taking renters’ security deposits and never returning them. As I’m not one to allow myself to be taken advantage of, I reported her theft to her US Trustee. He informed me that not only will this help the case against her, but they uncovered some hidden bank accounts she never reported. The case is about to be thrown out and she will lose everything she owns, as well as face some very serious jail time. This is another Westport business owner. I thought reporting her would make me feel good somehow or proud that I had done the noble thing. Again, I just felt kind of empty. Though I think she’s done some terrible things and she should have her real estate license taken away, I don’t feel any better knowing that I caused that to happen. The thing that these two women have in common is desperation. And fear. I think the wealthy are extremely susceptible to this “fix it at all costs” attitude. Their desperation led them to do things that they would otherwise find completely wrong. My guess is they are both having a hard time even recognizing who they are anymore. That makes me sad. I don’t know why. But I don’t think we should let these acts committed in desperation define who these women otherwise are. Get off your high horses, people! I’m sure if you allow someone to examine your life with a microscope the court of public opinion will convict you of something. I’m not saying lets excuse them. But if Soozie was a good, hard-working woman before this, I’m willing to bet there is still a shred of that woman still in there. Wouldn’t it benefit everyone if we tried to bring that person back instead of continuing to judge someone at the lowest point in their life? I know that’s the last place I want to be judged…at my very worst. Unless you are perfect, then I would think you would reserve your opinion until which time you are without sin.
Whether Soozi is wrong or right, maybe the issue here is trying to survive in an environment where houses cost millions of dollars. It’s just not natural and causes people to act “not naturally”, especially if she is a native Westporter (remembering the Folsom name from growing up in Westport) – when things were a little more normal economically.
RIGHT OR WRONG . TRYING TO SURVIVE IN WESPORT!!!!!
NOW SHE’S A NATIVE DANBURIAN(FEDERAL PRISON) WHERE SHE BELONGS.
HOPEFULLY THEY WILL RECOVER THE FUNDS BY SELLING OFF HER ASSETS.
With all the comments posted here except a few. SHE WAS A THIEF PLAIN AND SIMPLE. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR WHAT SHE DID. Nor does she need fixing. SHE’S A CRIMINAL. REMEMBER SHE SENT OVER 69K out of the country during the investigation to excape with.!!!! COMMON CRIMINAL
THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR WHAT SHE DID!!!!
All caps should be used only for much more serious crimes such as Capital Murder.
Wow. Are you people serious? I guess what they say about New England being the most educated region of the country is clearly not true.
Bonnie, sorry. That was clearly not meant for you. I agree with you.
Erin, if you are not commenting to Bonnie, then it seems that you are commenting to your own comments.
I am either confused or uneducated. Sorry.
You are confused, as am I. As I’m reading and responding from my iPhone I am having a difficult time responding to the right comment. Also, new to the posting thing so guess I should be responding to myself, as I am in fact the uneducated one. The comment was intended for the political back and forth. Come on. That’s what Facebook is for!
So Bonnie, a defense against embezzlement is “I had to keep up with the Jones”? Only in Westport!
I don’t think that’s what she said at all, though it does make for good shock value. She was exploring “why” she may have done this. From what I understand, she pleaded guilty. Thus, I don’t think having a defense is necessary. Of course she is guilty, the question being asked is why she would do this.
A: Greed and lack of morals.
Seems to be going around these days…..
It is certainly easy to throw out a few adjectives without giving this much thought. We all agree that the crime was embezzling. I think everyone agrees that this was wrong. What you are all arguing about are the motives of a person who did something wrong.
I can at least try to empathize with what it might have been like to be struggling with the finances of a restaurant, a family, etc. The economic downturn was difficult for many people and restaurants can no doubt consume a lot of capital in difficult times. So I have trouble with attributing her motives as being greedy. Maybe desperate? We don’t know.
I dont agree with that at all.
I’m not defending the embezzlement, I’m bemoaning the fact that the real estate is so outrageous now, that I could never afford to live in the town I grew up in. Little houses for millions of dollars and tearing down perfectly good houses is just not right. It’s segregation & discrimination of the population and society there. I imagine people do desperate things to stay there, especially if they grew up there and wanted to remain. I have no idea whether that was Suoozi’s case at all and even if it was there is nothing okay with embezzlement..
Even our RTM members are caught in the act (I forgot about this one)…
From yesterday’s WestportNow.com:
Julie Hymans, daughter of the late Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member Ralph Hymans, was sentenced today to 90 days in prison followed by one year of supervised release for engaging in a long-running scheme in which she and her father fraudulently received more than $300,000 in unemployment benefits, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford also ordered her to pay a $250 fine, a news release said.
Hymans pleaded guilty in October 2011 in in New Haven federal court to a mail fraud charge. (See WestportNow Oct. 4, 2011) Ralph Hymans died in June at the age of 87 a few days before he was to be sentenced. (See WestportNow Aug. 10, 2011)
Julie Hymans, a 41-year-old Bridgeport resident, had faced a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors said.
Isn’t it about depth of character? You really get to know who you are when faced with adversity. It’s easy to be a good person when things are going well but when they are not is when you get to know your core. I know of a few people in Westport who took very, extremely hard knocks financially in the late ’80’s and again recently, and they didn’t hide the slump in their financial status, they just moved to smaller homes, rented, etc., and, then kept/keep working their way out of the slump. That is The Westport that I know.
I tend to agree with your definition of character. I just wonder if character is something one can regain after such an act of betrayal. And I’ve seen my fair share of greed and bad character since moving here in April. Hell, we’ve all met them. People who operate on the very fringe of the law, but still “legally” are compliant. Ethically reprehensible but legally just fine.
I find discussion on character so interesting, especially now as it is currently ‘trendy’ to be compassionate and ethical and to speak in those terms. It would be better to just let people be who they are without guidelines/regulations/corrections so that we would really know what the other persons are made of (which is also why allowing ‘Anonymous’ posts is so beneficial).
Dan, I think you personally should conduct full investigations of every person whose name crosses your desk as a possible blog reference. Assuming that a complete police and security run-down, plus phone interviews with past employers, priests and rabbis, elementary school teachers, nosy neighbors, etc. (“he was a quiet man… always walking his dog… we thought something was amiss”…) takes about 6 hours, and assuming 7 blogs per week = a 42-hour work week to maintain 06880, this would therefore take… (doing the math)… all your time. There would be no more blogs, but those blogs that MIGHT have been would have nary a mention of any sketchy characters. I hope this plan will satisfy the critics!
What a bummer story for such an iconic Westport establishment. Very sad for everyone. Back in the 1960’s and a bit beyond, our 2nd home in Westport was on Bridge Street. I had the privilege of riding my bicycle to Peter’s Bridge and around the Mansion Clam House regularly, and also to skip stones in the river behind it. A young hip couple lived in the darling apt. upstairs from the restaurant and the young woman babysat for us. The couple later became the subject of the book and movie “Missing.” So, this is sad to me. Ahh — the innocence and memories of youth and here’s to hoping that some purity, hope and innocence can remain in all of us. She did make a terrible mistake but hopefully not one that totally ruins lives or her own life. What’s the old saying??? He/She who is without sin cast the first stone at her?
There was a lady named Soozi
Whose restaurant was a doozie
She got caught with her hand in the jar
And will now spend time behind bars
But hopefully not drown in her sorrows being boozy
I agree with you Dan!
Well, no issue: she has pleaded guilty. So, that’s that. Now, as to the Mansion, my wife and I, and various friends, have always felt great affection for the the food, and for Joe, Jim, Rigo, Kim (x2), and sadly others whose names I don’t recall. We will be back very soon…having just now learned of this ugly story. Really, this changes nothing; we never met the owner. I don’t recall ever seeing her, and w/o question it was a special group of individuals who ran the place, made it what it is.
They are the ones we are thinking about. And we shall see them soon.