Judge delays start of prison term for former Lighthouse Inn owner

A federal judge has extended former Lighthouse Inn owner Maureen Clark's prison surrender date to July 9 and continued a hearing into whether she should remain free while appealing her investment fraud conviction.

A federal jury in July 2012 found the 58-year-old Stonington resident 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.

Judge Warren W. Eginton sentenced Clark to 87 months in prison in March and ordered her to repay the victims. While the case was pending, Clark has been free on a $600,000 surety bond and has been monitored by a federal probation officer. She was initially due to report to prison in April but received a 60-day extension to get her personal and financial affairs in order.

She was again due to report to prison Monday but on June 16, New Haven attorney Todd Bussert filed a motion to allow Clark to remain free while her appeal is pending. The judge continued the surrender date to today and began a hearing on Monday.

Eginton began the hearing Monday in Bridgeport and continued it to July 8, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. The judge extended Clark's surrender date to July 9.

Bussert contends that Clark is likely to prevail in her appeal, where she argues 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.

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.

— Karen Florin

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