Former Lighthouse Inn owner receives 1-day extension of prison surrender date

Former Lighthouse Inn owner Maureen Clark, who was scheduled to surrender to federal authorities Monday to begin serving an 87-month sentence for investment fraud, has received a one-day extension while her attorney attempts to convince a judge that Clark should remain free while her appeal is pending.

Judge Warren W. Eginton will hear arguments from Clark's attorney and federal prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport on Monday. If he denies the motion, she is to report to prison on Tuesday.

A federal jury in July 2012 found Clark, 58, of Stonington guilty of 20 felony crimes, including one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering. Eginton sentenced Clark to 87 months in prison in March and ordered her to repay the victims.

According to the government, Clark and her business partner, Christopher Plummer, defrauded investors of $1.7 million in a resort investment scheme in Mississippi and spent the money on the failing Lighthouse Inn in New London and on themselves. Plummer pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and is serving a 51-month prison sentence.

Clark was initially due to report to prison in April but received a 60-day extension to get her personal and financial affairs in order. Her lawyer notified the court at that time that Clark might renew a motion to remain free on bond while an appeal of her conviction is pending.

New Haven attorney Todd Bussert filed the motion on June 16, claiming Clark, who is free on a $600,000 surety bond and is being monitored by a federal probation officer, is not a flight risk.

In the motion, Bussert writes that Clark is likely to prevail in her appeal, where she will argue the judge's instructions to the jury were erroneous and prejudicial. Clark also claims the court erred in denying a motion to suppress statements she made to FBI agents during the course of her arrest.

Federal prosecutors Richard J. Schechter and Michael S. McGarry oppose Clark's "eleventh-hour" motion to remain free, calling it a transparent attempt to delay her sentence. The prosecutors claim Clark poses "an economic danger to the community" and has failed to demonstrate that her appeal will raise a substantial question or fact of law likely to result in a reversal of her conviction.

k.florin@theday.com

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