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Norwich City Council candidate embroiled in financial disputes

Norwich — Republican City Council candidate Michael Grillo faces criminal larceny charges related to alleged bad checks and several civil lawsuits involving alleged financial nonpayment by his business, M&M Group or M&M Landcare.

Grillo, 27, executive of accounts and facilities maintenance for M&M Group, was charged by New London police on Oct. 24, 2020, with two counts each of issuing a bad check and fifth-degree larceny. Police said in May 2019, two employees cashed paychecks for $774.35 and $1,187.14, drawn from an account by M&M Group at CorePlus Federal Credit Union.

The check cashing store owner told New London police when he tried to redeem the checks, they first were returned for lack of funds and then they were blocked by the account. A court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15 in New London Superior Court.

Grillo told The Day the criminal case involves checks that his company has suspicions could be fraudulent. According to the affidavit, Grillo told the check cashing store owner the bank had already paid out for the checks, so the company was not liable for what he called the second attempt to cash them.

“At the end of the day, this is a process,” Grillo said. “The check cashing place is out money, and this is a process we have to go through to remedy it."

Three civil cases filed in New London Superior Court also involve finances connected with Grillo’s businesses. In one case filed in September 2020 by Yantic River Auto Supply alleged Grillo, M&M Group and M&M Landcare failed to pay invoices of $2,266.37 and $4,262.93 for auto parts.

A second suit filed by Lorraine and Reynold Marvin on Sept. 1, 2021, against M&M Group, Grillo and Justin Bingham, alleges they failed to make payments on a $15,000 loan and allegedly “converted the money to their own use.”

A third civil suit, filed by Sunbelt Rentals alleged breach of contract in failure to pay for $36,456 for rented equipment. M&M’s attorney, Lawrence H. Adler filed a motion Oct. 15, 2021, to withdraw from the case citing lack of payment.

In his motion to withdraw from the case, Adler wrote that he had negotiated a settlement agreement with Sunbelt, but Grillo failed to sign it and make the settlement payment.

“Instead, he keeps making appointments to come into our office to do so and then does not show up,” Adler wrote.

Grillo said some of the issues involved a dissolved partnership between Grillo and former partner Bryan Balczun. State business filings show that M&M Group is dissolved, but Grillo said that was an error made when the partners separated. He showed The Day recent tax forms showing the company remains active, although the state's business database listed it as dissolved Monday.

 In a court response to Sunbelt's claims, Grillo argued the equipment rental company should not have rented equipment to the former partner.

Grillo said M&M Group’s $3,892 overdue motor vehicle tax bill is accurate.

“Definitely, there’s a chance we missed that. We will do it,” he said.

Four other Norwich candidates had outstanding motor vehicle bills. On Friday, the city's tax office confirmed Republican Board of Education candidate Yamir Flores paid the $547.80 bill on a car he said had been repossessed.

Democratic school board candidate Gregory Perry remains $1,271.63 in arears on a motor vehicle tax, and Republican Board of Education candidates Heather Fowler and Joshua Chapman — husband and wife — owe $649.42 on a vehicle in Fowler’s name, and $1,036 on a vehicle owned by Chapman. The couple said they fell behind on bills after Fowler lost her job at Friar Tuck’s Tavern in Mystic.

“I managed to get quite behind in COVID,” Fowler said. “We’re living on Josh’s income.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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