The chairman of a Connecticut police commission has resigned after being charged in Florida with trying to cash in a winning $520,000 lottery ticket that was reported stolen by his niece.
Michael Royston, 49, was freed on bond after his arrest last Thursday at Florida Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee, and on Friday night, he sent a terse resignation email to Windsor Locks Town Clerk William Hamel, saying only: "Effective immediately I am resigning my position as police commissioner."
On Sunday night, he issued a statement denying his guilt to Connecticut news organizations including The Courant.
"I adamantly deny any wrong doing in which I have been accused. I do not want this to [a]ffect the Commission or The Windsor Locks Police Department while I exonerate my name, therefore I have resigned from the Windsor Locks Police Commission. It has been an honor and a privilege serving the citizens of Windsor Locks," he said.
Royston turned himself in and was charged with filing a false claim for payment, trying to pass a lottery ticket with the intent to defraud, and grand theft in excess of $100,000, according to a story published Friday by the Tallahassee Democrat.
The story quoted court records as indicating that Royston tried to claim the prize, saying the ticket had been a gift, but couldn't provide the name of the person who gave it to him. The story said his niece told police that early last month she'd shown the ticket to Royston in Connecticut, and that a few days afterward she'd reported it stolen to the Northampton, Massachusetts, police.
The story said that Florida officials were made aware the ticket had reported stolen when Royston tried to cash it in that state, and that he had told police he'd found the ticket under the seat of his car.
The Courant asked Royston in an email to comment on that newspaper account, and he did not. He did send back an email late Sunday night answering one question about when he will answer the charges in court. "No court date has been set as of yet," he said in the email.
The position of police commission chairman in Windsor Locks is unpaid, and not part of the sworn police force. Members of the commission have fiduciary and policy responsibilities in overseeing the department. Royston headed the commission starting in January, when the panel's erstwhile chairman moved out of the state.
Royston had a higher-than-usual public profile during his tenure as chairman. A month after assuming the role, the commission approved a settlement to pay $460,000 to end a labor dispute with Robert Koistinen, the sergeant acquitted of hindering the drunken driving investigation of his son. Koistinen's son, former Windsor Locks policeman Michael Koistinen struck Henry Dang with his car, killing him, when the teenager was riding his bicycle home in October 2010.
The elder Koistinen agreed to retire as part of the settlement, rather than be reinstated to his job in accordance with a State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruling. Royston said in recommending the resolution: "There has been this dark cloud hanging over the police department and the town for too long now and it is time to try and put this behind us." Town voters approved the settlement in March.
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