Moore arrested for embezzling millions
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
After an eight-month investigation, the Chester County District Attorney's Office announced that they arrested former Kennett Township Manager Lisa Moore for embezzling a total of $3,249,453 from the township, dating back to 2013. She has been charged with felony theft, forgery, computer crimes and related offenses.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan informed the Chester County Press that Moore is now free and awaiting a preliminary hearing, after posting an unsecured bail in the amount of $500,000, as set by Magisterial Court Judge Albert Iacocca.
In a press release issued by the District Attorney's Office on the morning of Dec. 10, Moore, a once-prominent figure in local politics and the Kennett community, created her own personal parlor game of trickery with township funds that were intended to be used for employee benefits, the township's police department, land preservation and several other township operations.
The release further stated that Moore used the stolen money to pay for extravagant personal expenses. She traveled to countries like Italy and France, and to Las Vegas. She spent township money at clothing boutiques such as Michael Kors, Gucci and Chanel. She spent township money on family and friends.
Moore, 46, was hired by the township in 1997 and was promoted to township manager in 2010, giving her oversight and access to virtually all of the township's financial operations. The investigation revealed that Moore had engaged in several long-time, multi-pronged schemes to steal money from the township, nearly from the time of her promotion. For instance, Moore had money paid directly to herself, but never recorded the disbursements in the township's records. On other occasions, she would have the money paid to herself, but would record the payments as being made to known and normal vendors who did business with the township.
A chart created by the District Attorney's Office indicates that the dollar amounts associated with Moore's thefts increased over time, accumulated through unauthorized payroll payments; payments to her personal credit card; unauthorized payments to her retirement fund; personal use of the township's credit card; and other unauthorized disbursements:
Year Total Per Year
Total Amount $3,249,453
Moore also rewarded herself with higher salaries. She had an annual salary of between $120,000 and $130,000 for the township, but managed to raise her salary regularly to over $200,000 by claiming she worked over 3,000 hours per year. In 2017, she booked herself for working 3,612 hours—or an average of 10 hours a day for 365 consecutive days – which led to rewarding herself a salary of $295,000 for these fabricated work hours.
At one time, the township required two signatures for certain checks – one by Moore and the other by a township supervisor – but Moore side-stepped a second signature by using a stamp with the signature of one of the supervisors. When she needed checks paid to herself or her credit card accounts, she would write the check, sign it herself and then use the stamp signature of the supervisor.
Moore used a township credit card issued in her name to rack up unauthorized purchases that totaled nearly $700,000. She also engaged in acts of money laundering – transferring money from one township account to another – giving the appearance of normal transactions. She would then make another transfer, secretly moving the money from a second township account to one of her own accounts.
Moore even concocted a scheme that bilked the taxpayers an additional $50,000 a year, by pretending to be married to Brian Gore which, under township policy, extends full medical benefits to the spouse of a township employee.
She also manipulated the township's retirement savings plan to steal money from the township. Between 2014 and 2019, Moore was entitled to $33,000 in payments for retirement savings, but directed over $945,000 to her E*Trade account. In 2018, she was entitled to a payment of $5,000 from the township to this savings account, but Moore awarded herself over $353,000 in payments, a manipulation of funds that cost township taxpayers over $347,000 in lost funds during 2018.
While she continued to weave a complex web of fraudulence and thievery, Moore invented several methods of concealing her fraudulent activities. For example, investigators discovered a document supposedly from the township's auditor, that dated back to Dec. 31, 2012, that stated that Moore was owed 10,025 hours of sick/vacation and 3,052 hours of comp time.
The intricate system that Moore had created over the past six years began to unravel this past April, when the township police department received a report from the Capital One Fraud Department related to money transfers Moore had made. After an initial review, the investigation was turned over to the District Attorney's Office, who was assisted by Marcum, LLP, a forensic accounting firm hired by the township, in discovering the extent of Moore's complex fraud schemes.
When the investigation began, Moore was on vacation in France. She was dismissed form her position at the township in May.
“This case is all about greed,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in the release. “The defendant was well-compensated, with an annual salary of over $100,000. But she decided to live the high life, funded by the taxpayers of Kennett Township. There is no excuse for such a blatant abuse of a position of trust.”
From the time word had reached the Kennett Township community in early May that the township was entering into a dual investigation with the District Attorney's Office and a forensic auditor, interest in learning the details of the case was both rapid and rising with each speck of news and every rumor. As the investigations continued, however, a common sentiment expressed by many was that the course of these investigations – as shared at township meetings – was far too slow.
Hogan told the Chester County Press that typically, investigations into possible fraud take between 18 months and two years.
“Given the concerns expressed by the community to expedite and conclude our investigation, we were able to move the process along more quickly,” Hogan said. “It was an extraordinary effort on behalf of those who conducted this investigation to complete it in a timely fashion.”
Kennett Township Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Scudder Stevens expressed his dismay over the findings of the investigation.
“I am finally glad it is now all out in the open,” he said. “It is a tragedy that this was conducted by someone who was at the top of her professional game, who was so loved and respected by so many people.
“[Lisa Moore] let us down in so many ways. She deceived us, and then took advantage of us,” Stevens added. “It is a very sad day, but it is also a very good day, because at last, these issues can be confronted.
Kennett Township will host a town hall meeting related to the investigations on Dec. 17, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Red Clay Room in Kennett Square. Those in attendance will include representatives from the township, a representative from the District Attorney’s Office, a collections attorney for the township and a representative from Marcum, LLP.
The Chester County Press will continue to report on the findings of this investigation.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.