Supervisors interviewed in fraud investigation
● By J. Chambless
By Richard L. Gaw
It was announced at the July 17 Kennett Township Board of Supervisors meeting that the township's three supervisors – Chairman Scudder Stevens, Dr. Richard Leff and Whitney Hoffman – were recently interviewed by officials investigating the unfolding allegation of fraud in the township, which led to the dismissal of its former manager.
It was confirmed that Stevens and Leff met separately with authorities on June 25, and that Hoffman was interviewed on June 27, but on the advice of Solicitor David Sander and Police Chief Lydell Nolt, the specific individuals and agencies were not disclosed. The township is working with the Chester County District Attorney's Office and Marcum, LLP – a forensic auditor hired by the township. The findings of both agencies are due in early September.
The announcement on July 17 served as the latest update the board has shared with the public related to an ongoing investigation that began on April 25, when Stevens, Leff and Hoffman were notified by the fraud department at the township's bank that its officers had found a number of suspicious transactions on township accounts.
From the time the public first received the news of the investigation, a flurry of statements have been issued from the township, and action has been done on the part of the supervisors. In a release sent on May 11, the supervisors wrote that they carefully reviewed the findings with the bank, legal and law enforcement representatives and immediately referred the matter to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. Also, steps were taken to make sure no further unauthorized transactions take place.
On May 14, former township manager Lisa Moore was placed on paid administrative leave, and in an official release issued on May 20, the supervisors announced that they dismissed Moore from her job. On June 5, Stevens read a brief joint statement that said that the investigation was in the final stages of securing records and documents from both internal and external sources, and that the DA's Office and forensic auditor were in the process of analyzing and qualifying those documents, a process which will continue for a period of some months.
Stevens also said on June 5 that Police Chief Lydell Nolt had recently received a joint memo from the investigators were in the final stages of securing records and documents, both from internal and external sources.
“As you would expect, the investigators are being thorough, objective and professional,” Stevens said at the July 17 meeting. “I regret that I cannot provide any more details than that. I also cannot speculate or discuss who else is being interviewed, the subjects covered, or how long the interview phase may take.
“I appreciate your understanding as we work to fully cooperate with the investigation, including not to do or say anything which might jeopardize it.”
Stevens said that while the investigation continues, the township is working “diligently to ensure that the government of Kennett Township proceeds without interruption,” he said. He pointed out the work that interim manager Alison Rudolf is doing to review – and likely update – township policies and procedures “to insure that we operate according to best practices in areas such as cost, efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.
“We are looking for improvements and efforts to make all our operations more effective and more secure. Two of the areas currently under review are our operations, to make sure all of us are optimizing our time and resources in the best manner, and our finances.”
Stevens also provided an update on the township's search for a permanent manager. Through the assistance of the David Woglom, Associate Director for Public Service at the Meyner Center at Lafayette College for the Study of State and Local Government, the township has received interest from 33 applicants for the position. Stevens said that the list has been narrowed down to nine final candidates, and interviews will begin soon.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.