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Hartford Courant -

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Southington Town Clerk

Posted on May 06 2008

SOUTHINGTON — The daughter of a man who died in 2005 is suing Town Clerk Leslie Cotton, accusing Cotton of granting a fraudulent marriage license to her father that let the woman he married get a substantial part of his estate.

The suit saysthat Dennis Stanek Sr. married Veronica Mirisola Stanek four days before he died of lung cancer in November 2005 at age 63. According to the suit, Stanek was so incapacitated by his deteriorating health that he was incapable of agreeing to get married. The suit accuses Veronica Stanek of conspiring to get married so she could receive part of her husband's estate.

Veronica Stanek's lawyer, Paul Spinella, said she and Dennis Stanek had been together a number of years before he died. Spinella said Dennis Stanek was competent to enter into a marriage.

"It's sad, Mr. Stanek was involved in a long and loving relationship with her for many years," Spinella said. "And out of his great respect and love for her he married her. This was a perfectly legitimate marriage by a well-respected man."

Stanek's daughter, Kristen Birmingham, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in New Haven last week.

Cotton declined to comment on the suit when reached on Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Cotton issued a marriage license that did not bear Dennis Stanek's signature, which would be required by state law. In granting the license, Cotton gave the impression that Stanek had appeared before her to get the license, and according to the lawsuit Stanek did not do that because he was too sick.

Birmingham has also filed a state lawsuit against Veronica Stanek to get the marriage declared void. According to that suit, Birmingham had herself named as her father's temporary conservator on Nov. 23, 2005, after learning that a marriage was in the works. The state lawsuit goes on to say that the marriage happened later that day.

According to the federal lawsuit, Birmingham told officials in the town probate judge's office on Nov. 23, 2005, that she had been named as her father's temporary conservator and that her father was incompetent to get married. The federal lawsuit goes on to say that probate staff relayed this information to Cotton's office. Despite this, the license was issued and the marriage went ahead.

According to the state lawsuit, Veronica Stanek inherited Stanek's house at 15 Mountain Edge Drive. The two were living there at the time of his death, according to town voter registration records. Veronica Stanek is now 64 years old.

Courant Staff Writer
By KEN BYRON Courant Staff Writer