Plea possible in Moore case

Kennett Township residents who joined the virtual supervisors’ meeting Wednesday night heard several updates relating to the former township manager who allegedly embezzled more than $3.2 million.

The Chester County District Attorney’s office could begin plea talks with Lisa Moore later this year, according to current Manager Eden Ratliff. Moore faces criminal charges following a months-long investigation last year by both the district attorney’s office and a forensic accountant hired by the supervisors.

Kennett Township“If the case does go to trial, we would expect that a trial would not begin until the latter part of 2021,” Ratliff said during the Zoom meeting, adding that discovery alone for a potential trial amounts to about a terabyte of data.

According to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas docket, Moore’s criminal trial is listed as scheduled for July 20 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge David F. Bortner. Moore waived her formal arraignment, and an earlier trial date – on June 8 – was continued.

Ratliff said the township continues to work closely with Marcum, the forensic accounting firm, and Blank Rome, the law firm hired by Kennett to help with any civil financial recovery.

Earlier Wednesday, Ratliff announced via email that the township had received a $1 million check from the surety bond company that covered the former manager. To date, the township has recovered a total of $1.08 million in its ongoing efforts to recoup the township funds that Moore is alleged to have stolen during her tenure.

The million-dollar bond check will be set aside for now and invested. In a press release, Ratliff said the funds are “unrestricted, meaning the money can be used as needed by the township.”

Just how that money is needed could be aided by the 2019 audits, which the firm of Maillie LLP is conducting. Maillie was hired earlier this year, and their work will, according to the presentation the firm made to the supervisors in February, “calculate the receivables, other assets, accounts payable, long-term debt and other liabilities as of Dec. 31, 2019.”

The audits should be able to determine what the fund balances should have been, Ratliff said.

“Underfunded accounts will be adjusted,” Ratliff said in both the press release and at the meeting.

Beginning Monday, the auditing process will move into the second of three steps, which covers things like risk assessment procedures and testing of internal controls. Kennett Finance Director and Treasurer Amy Heinrich said the auditing firm will do the majority of the work off-site given the COVID-19 pandemic. The finance team has been uploading documents and scanning paper backups, Heinrich said.

The final step of the audit process is the reporting phase. That is when Maillie personnel will “review draft reports, management letter, and recommendations with the township’s personnel, issue final reports and meet with key personnel to discuss results, opinions, and recommendations, (and) assist in resolving any audit findings or issues,” according to the Maillie presentation from February.

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About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.

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