A New Haven woman is accused of cashing her dead boyfriend’s pension checks for five years after his death and has been arrested after an investigation.
David Shea, who was a volunteer firefighter in North Haven, died in December 2010, at the age of 82, but his 75-year-old girlfriend, Nancy Taneszio, never reported his death and fraudulently collected his pension, according to police.
She is accused of cashing 57 monthly checks for $212 -- totaling $12,084 over five years -- that were deposited into the joint account she and Shea had.
Police began investigating in November of this year after receiving and anonymous tip and arrested Taneszio on a warrant on Monday.
The arrest warrant application is redacted and does not include names of anyone other than Taneszio, but it says authorities investigating the case called the phone number listed for the firefighter at the time of his death and a woman who identified herself as "Nancy" answered the phone.
The caller ask to speak with (name redacted) and she said he was very sick, had a stroke and the doctor told him he had only seven to eight months to live, according to police.
Then, she asked who she should contact if he did die and was told to get a death certificate and contact North Haven Town Hall.
Taneszio later told police she was in a romantic relationship for 23 years and the couple never married, but she considered herself a "common law" wife and was told that she would be the beneficiary of the pension fund, according to court paperwork.
The volunteer firefighter pension does have a survivorship program, but it is only for spouses who have been married for at least a year, but it does not recognize common law marriages and Taneszio was not listed as a spouse, police said.
As the investigation went on, Taneszio said she learned eight months before the charges were filed that the state does not recognize "common law" relationships, but said she continued to cash the checks because she was desperate, according to police.
Taneszio was charged with first-degree larceny and is due in Meriden Superior Court on Dec. 10.
She took full responsibility for her actions and wanted to make restitution to the town, police said.
It’s not clear if she has an attorney.