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Chester County Press

Kennett Township halts its recovery of stolen funds from former manager

01/24/2024 02:08PM ● By Haleigh Abbott

Kennett Township Manager Eden Ratliff announced at the Jan. 17 Board of Supervisors meeting that the township is shutting down its efforts to recover additional money that was stolen by former Manager Lisa Moore over a nearly eight-year period that led to her conviction of embezzlement and formal sentencing in October 2021. 

In a statement released on Jan. 17, the township “has exhausted its efforts” to recover the remainder of the $3,249,452 that Moore stole but has recuperated $2,665,095 – 82 percent – of the stolen funds over the past four-and-a-half years. Recovery efforts of this type usually yield an average return of 6 percent, the release stated.

“Further recovery efforts by the township at this time would incur additional fees that cannot be justified given the probability of further success,” the statement read, referring to the $1,356,892 it has spent with attorneys and forensic accountants to recuperate the stolen money. The remaining 18 percent -- $584,357 – that is still unaccounted for from Moore will come through her restitution payments as a condition of her guilty plea and coordinated by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Parole Office.  Ratliff said that restitution payments will be made directly to the township.

Ratliff said that Moore is responsible for paying the total amount that was stolen from the criminal complaint as a condition of Pennsylvania’s Made Whole Doctrine, a legal principle that requires that fully insured entities in the commonwealth be fully compensated for their losses.

The township underwent the recovery process with the assistance of attorney Joseph Poluka of Blank Rome LLP and his team of recovery experts, Ricardo Zayas and his team at Marcum LLP, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, former township supervisors Whitney Hoffman and Scudder Stevens and the township staff. 

North Walnut Road development receives conditional use approval

Following a public hearing, the supervisors granted conditional use approval to “Parkside,” a proposed mixed-use development on North Walnut Road immediately south of Route 1 and on the east side of the road in the township. The board also approved all 7 conditions related to the approval of the development’s conditional use plan. 

Being developed by the North Walnut Holding Company, the 16.16-acre mixed-use project includes 7 single-family dwelling units, 76 multi-family attached dwelling units, 100 apartment units, 11 detached garages and space for two commercial/retail businesses. Of those 183 total dwelling units included in the planned development, 58 will be age restricted. Access to the site will be provided through two entrances located along North Walnut Road.

Supervisors bid Ratliff ‘Adieu’

Following their approval to appoint Roseann J. McGrath as a consultant in the recruitment of a new township manager, the supervisors thanked Ratliff – who will be leaving his position on Feb. 1 to become the Deputy Manager for the City of Charlottesville, Va. – for his four-and-a-half years of service. 

Supervisor Richard Leff praised Ratliff for his work to revise – and remove – policies, procedures and employees in the township that led to a more ethical steerage of its finances in the aftermath of the Lisa Moore embezzlement investigation. 

“We needed a principled, organized leader with exceptional communication skills to turn this township around; we got that, and so much more, with you,” Leff said. “When necessary, you were relentless in removing policies, procedures and even people that were detrimental to our functioning. You were willing to do the tough and sometimes unpopular things that needed to be done to get us on solid footing.

“But perhaps your greatest strength is seeing talent and the potential of everyone and everything around you. You attracted great people to join our team and built a highly effective government built on mutual respect and actual care for one another.”

“As with many talented people, one wouldn’t expect [Eden] to be here in the range of five years or so, and we have to expect when we get somebody really good that we will lose him to a larger city,” said board Chairman Geoffrey Gamble. “He has weathered a great many storms in this township, coming on the heels of the theft, and his leadership in hiring a superb staff has put us on a very sound footing. We can be confident that as we move forward, this structure remains.”

Following giving his last administrative report, Ratliff acknowledged the supervisors he has worked with and the township staff.

“The message I want to convey is one of appreciation,” he said. “Thank you to this board and the previous board that hired me for the opportunity to come here four-and-a-half years ago and for believing me when I said that I have enough energy and experience despite being under 30 years old to be able to make a difference in this township that has the challenges it has.”

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