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Bridgewater First Selectman Leaving Amid FBI Investigation

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BRIDGEWATER, Conn. (AP) _ Bridgewater First Selectman William Stuart is stepping down after 30 years amid an FBI investigation of town finances, saying he’s tired of political battles with a former friend who began raising questions about Stuart’s management five years ago.

Stuart said Wednesday that he won’t seek another four-year term in the November election as the chief executive of the western Connecticut town, which has about 1,700 residents and is known as the only town in the state where alcohol isn’t sold.

Stuart said Bridgewater needs a break from the disputes he has had with his former friend, George Allingham, former chairman of the town’s finance board. Allingham also has raised questions about Stuart’s management of the $250,000 Burnham Fund, a charity for the needy that is under state investigation.

“Mr. Allingham is trying to destroy my life,” Stuart said. “I might have run for another term, but George Allingham has been ruthless in coming after me over the last few years, and Bridgewater doesn’t deserve to be continually dragged through the mud.”

Stuart denies any wrongdoing with town finances and the charity.

Allingham declined to comment through his lawyer, John Downey.

A year ago, the FBI seized boxes of records from Town Hall and interviewed town employees. Federal authorities won’t discuss the investigation, which remains pending.

Stuart said he’s proud of what he has accomplished as first selectman and is leaving the town in better condition than it was when he took office in 1983.

“Recreation, the senior center, town facilities, the highways, all are in great shape,” he said. “The town’s in the best fiscal shape it has been in all my years in office.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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