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Chester County Press

Plea deal expected in Lisa Moore trial

07/28/2021 12:25PM ● By Steven Hoffman
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The much anticipated trial of former Kennett Township Manager Lisa Moore – one that would have attempted to explain in further detail her alleged theft of more than $3.2 million of the township’s money over an eight-year span -- will very likely never happen.
On July 19, Moore’s attorney Julia Alexa Rogers appeared before Chester County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Sommer and asked that the case be continued until September in order to “prepare for plea to comply with terms thereof and determine scheduling.” Sommer, who has presided over the case since it was first set for trial in April 2020, signed the continuance order.
With a trial now very much in doubt, there is strong speculation that Moore will plead guilty to her alleged crimes and negotiate a plan that would require her to pay the township back the money that was lost. While the terms of negotiation are still being discussed between Moore’s attorney and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, the length and extent of her prison sentence – or whether she receives only a probationary sentence -- is expected to be ultimately determined by Sommer.
Meanwhile, the most crucial component of this resolution may not be measured by the severity of “punishment” that will be doled out to Moore for her alleged crimes, but how these stolen funds will find their way back into the township’s account. To date, the township has already received $1 million from the surety bond that covered Moore, that 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.

House Sale

That still leaves well over $2 million to recover, leaving the former township manager liable to repay the remaining restitution. Recently, possible collateral for repayment was introduced into negotiations in the form of Moore’s three-bedroom, 1,887-square-foot house on McFarlan Road, which she originally listed for sale at an asking price of $575,000 that was reduced to $539,900 on July 23. The figure constitutes about 20 percent of what Moore owes the township.
Rogers and prosecuting attorney William Judge, Jr. of the District Attorney’s Office have submitted an order to Sommer that would preserve the proceeds from the sale of the house in order to “satisfy an anticipated restitution order.”  
Sommer then ordered that the proceeds of any sale of the home would be transferred to the Chester County Court Administration Office to be retained and applied to any restitution ordered in Moore’s case. 
In a narrative that has since become well familiar to township residents and continues to grip southern Chester County, an eight-month investigation by the Chester County District Attorney's Office -- in collaboration with the accounting firm of Marcum, LLP – performed a forensic scrubbing of township funds in 2019 that revealed unauthorized disbursements and check payments; money transfers from the township’s bank into personal accounts; personal use of a township credit card; and the unauthorized decision to get township employee benefits for her boyfriend, Brian Gore. 
In late April 2019, the township’s Board of Supervisors – Scudder Stevens, Richard Leff and Whitney Hoffman – first became aware of Moore’s indiscretions regarding suspicious bank account transactions and after placing Moore on paid administrative leave, fired her on May 17, 2019.
The investigation uncovered details surrounding Moore’s alleged crimes, in which she 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 investigation shared that Moore used the stolen money to pay for extravagant personal expenses, such as traveling to countries like Italy and France, and to Las Vegas, and making extravagant purchases at clothing boutiques such as Michael Kors, Gucci and Chanel. 
The investigation was finalized in December of 2019 and on Dec. 10, Moore was arrested for allegedly stealing $3,249,453 from the township, dating back to 2013, and charged with felony theft, forgery, computer crimes and related offenses.
Township Response
At their July 21 meeting -- held at the Township Building after more than a year of conducting meetings via Zoom -- the township released a statement in response to the latest negotiations in the Moore trial.
“We urge everyone to remember that Lisa Moore has not yet been convicted of a crime and thus she has several options under our laws,” Leff read. “She can enter into a negotiated guilty plea where Moore and the DA’s office agree to punishment, including restitution, subject to court approval. If an agreement cannot be reached, she can enter an open plea before a County Court judge and have the judge determine her punishment. She can also decide to proceed with a trial, either before a jury or a judge. 
“Under our laws, Moore continues to be considered innocent,” Leff continued. “The Kennett Township Supervisors will continue to keep you informed of the status of the embezzlement case, as we have since the beginning. The township and our legal counsel continue to aggressively pursue full restitution for the money taken in the embezzlement.” 

On Sept. 4, 2019, 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. When asked where the township currently stands in terms of its financial recovery, Leff said that while it has secured the $1 million bond and $80,000 in escrow, the township is still seeking the remainder of the restitution.

“We don’t control restitution,” Stevens added. “That is determined by the court and the District Attorney’s Office. We can’t do anything about the restitution except be present and influence the process; that is, the DA and the judge who will determine what the restitution is. After all of that happens, then the ball shifts to us, out of the criminal and into the civil, and that’s a different ballgame.
“We can’t get [to the civil], until we get through the criminal.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected]