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Chester County Press

Editorial: The strange, curious, continuing and seemingly never-ending case of Lisa Moore

04/28/2021 09:16AM ● By Richard Gaw

It has become a necessary and customary ritual at the start of every Kennett Township Board of Supervisors meeting over the past year for Manager Eden Ratliff to report that there have been no new developments in what the township deems its “recovery update.”

Ratliff’s “no new news” has become the signature echo in the hollow of what has happened since former township Manager Lisa Moore was arrested on Dec. 10, 2019 for allegedly embezzling over $3.2 million of township funds, and the impact of this empty shrill has reverberated around a township – and a region – that has grown increasingly frustrated about the insufferable delay in bringing this case to trial.

Over the past 17 months, we have witnessed a township dig its heels into the mud of this scandalous quagmire and endeavor to clean it up. Ratliff was hired as its new manager, and then Amy Heinrich as its director of finance and human resources. The township hired the forensic accounting firm Marcum, and then the law firm Blank Rome, LLP, who has helped the township recover $1 million of the funds that Moore had allegedly stolen from the township between 2013 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the mud continues to reveal a deeper truth.

At the board’s meeting held on April 21, Christopher Herr, a representative from the accounting firm of Maillie, LLP gave a thorough review of his audit of the township’s 2019 financial data. He used words like “suspicious activity” and “several deficiencies” throughout his presentation. He found several invoices that had not been approved by the supervisors, lost invoices, staff salary increases that were not approved by the supervisors, no effective system of purchases, and township checks signed with the rubber stamp signature of the then board chairman – an across-the-board dereliction of duties.

While Moore’s alleged activities continue to become known, however, none of them have come to the full light of the legal system.

Instead, while the residents of Kennett Township and southern Chester County continue to wait for proper justice to be served and ultimate facts to be revealed, the trial of Lisa Moore has become a kick-the-can-down-the-road series of continuations and delays.

A preliminary hearing, originally scheduled for Feb. 11, 2020, was waived until April 21, 2020, until it was also waived. Most recently, a trial date that had been set for April 19, 2021 before the Hon. David Bortner of the 15th Judicial District has been continued, with a new trial date set for June.

Will that date be continued to another date in the future? We have no way of knowing, but the only truth we have now is an alleged one, that tells a story about a once prominent figure in local politics and the Kennett community who may – or may not have -- played her own personal parlor game for at least eight years, deceiving residents, elected and appointed leaders, stakeholders and yes, even herself.

And yet, until we begin to know all of the facts, and until that day arrives when the word “alleged” will no longer be applied to this case, the ultimate knowledge of what actually happened remains an illusive truth. And what is the value of a truth that never comes?