Kennett Township Recovers $1 Million from Former Manager’s Alleged $3.2 Million Theft
By Richard Gaw
Former Kennett Township manager Lisa Moore
On Sept. 4, 2019, smack in the middle of a lengthy investigation by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office that eventually led to the Dec. 10 arrest of former Kennett Township manager Lisa Moore for allegedly embezzling over $3.2 million of township funds, the township’s Board of Supervisors voted to hire the Philadelphia law firm of Blank Rome, LLP as special counsel to pursue any civil liability associated with the investigation, and seek to recoup financial losses.
Last week, the township got a sizable chunk of that money back.
As stated in a July 15 press release, the township has received $1 million from the surety bond that was issued to Moore during her tenure as the township manager. A surety bond guarantees that a specific individual ensure that he/she will act in accordance with certain laws in accordance with the Pennsylvania Second Class Township Code.
The $1 million is now tacked on to the $80,000 that the township had already recovered earlier this year. Kennett Township Manager Eden Ratliff said that the township received the $1 million the week before and deposited it in the township’s bank account. The money, he said, will be invested for now, and because the funds are unrestricted, they can be used by the township as needed.
“The township is pursuing every avenue to recover all of the money improperly taken from our residents by Lisa Moore,” said board Chairman Dr. Richard L. Leff. “We are aggressively pursuing additional methods of recovery with our team of loss recovery professionals.”
Moore, who was hired by the township in 1997 and promoted to township manager in 2010, had allegedly engaged in several long-time, multi-pronged schemes to steal money from the township. She is alleged to have created her own personal parlor game of trickery with township funds beginning in 2013 that had been intended to be used for employee benefits, the township's police department, land preservation and several other township operations.
The Chester County District Attorney's Office arrested and charged Moore with 21 crimes for embezzling $3,249,453 from the township, after their investigation revealed that the money was stolen from employee benefits, the police department, land preservation and other township operations. Moore used the money for extravagant personal expenses, including foreign trips, jewelry and designer clothes, according to the District Attorney.
In a recorded interview with investigators at the time of her arrest, Moore admitted to improper conduct, and was charged with 115 felony counts and 26 misdemeanor counts, and posted a $500,000 unsecured bail.
Moore’s preliminary hearing, originally scheduled to take place on Feb. 11 at District Court 15-3-04 in Kennett Square, with District Judge Albert Michael Iacocca presiding, was waived to April 21, and later waived again by Moore’s attorney Julia Alexa Rogers.
Ratliff said that the township has been informed by the District Attorney’s Office that plea discussions with Moore and her attorney will begin at a later date this year. The case is now scheduled to be heard in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, but due to complications related to COVID-19 that have led to the suspension of court trials, the township has been advised by the District Attorney’s Office that if the case does progress to a trial, the proceedings may not begin until the end of 2021.
He also said that another reason for the delay is because of the significant amount of data that the investigation has gathered, which he said will require the District Attorney’s Office and the defense counsel a lengthy time period to sift through.
“The board has been from the very beginning very been diligent in putting into motion the steps necessary to close down the leaks and start calling on the resources that were available to us to go after those who were responsible, from a criminal perspective and a civil perspective,” said supervisor Scudder Stevens at the board’s July 15 online meeting. “The wheels of justice grind slowly but they do grind along. There is a lot more that has to be done, and I can assure you that this board is actively committed to pursuing it, and to succeed in that continuing effort.
Stevens urged township residents to “be patient, but know that it is happening and we are not going to let go of those bones. We are aggressive dogs when it comes to hanging on to this bone,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.