Moore charged with stealing $3.2M from Kennett Township

Lisa Moore. File photo.

KENNETT — Lisa Moore, the former Township Manager, has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $3.2 million since taking the job in 2010, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced Tuesday.

Moore, who was fired earlier this year when the allegations first surfaced, is charged with taking money from employee benefits, the police department, land preservation, and other township operations. She is alleged to have used the stolen money for extravagant personal expenses such as clothes from Gucci and Chanel, jewelry, and travel to places like Italy and France. Investigators said part of her fraudulent behavior  included pretending to be married.

“This case is all about greed,” Hogan said. “The defendant was well-compensated, with an annual salary of over $100,000. But she decided to live the high life, funded by the taxpayers of Kennett Township. There is no excuse for such a blatant abuse of a position of trust.

Employed by the township starting in 1997, she was promoted to Township Manager in 2010.

As Township Manager she had a significant amount of authority and discretion — although she is supposed to be supervised by the three elected Township Supervisors, who have final sign-off on all township expenditures.

Investigators said that in April of 2019, the Kennett Township Police Department received a report from the Capital One Fraud Department related to money transfers by the defendant. After an initial review, the investigation was turned over to the Chester County Detectives, the investigative arm of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. When the Chester County Detectives began their investigation, Moore was reportedly was on vacation in France.

The resulting investigation allegedly revealed she engaged in a long­ running, multi-pronged scheme to steal money from the township. Investigators detail how Moore allegedly was able to move township money around, ultimately into her personal accounts.

Investigators said she sometimes had money paid directly to herself, but never recorded the disbursements in the township’s records. On other occasions, the complaint said she would have the money paid to herself, but would reportedly record the payments as being made to known and normal vendors of the township.

Investigators said Moore’s theft accelerated over time. In 2012, she reportedly stole $141,000 from the township. By 2018, her last full year of employment, she allegedly stole $410,000.

Moore was paid an annual salary of approximately $120,000 – $130,000 while working for Kennett Township. However, investigators said she unilaterally  managed  to raise her salary regularly to over $200,000 by claiming that she worked over 3,000 hours per year. For instance, in 2017, records suggest she booked herself as working 3,612 hours, which equates to working roughly 10 hours per day for every single day of a 365-day year. Moore allegedly paid herself a salary of $295,000 for these faked work hours.

The township required two signatures for certain checks: the Township Manager and a Township Supervisor. Moore reportedly solved this problem by using a stamp with the signature of one of the Township Supervisors. When she needed checks paid to herself or her credit card accounts, she would simply write the check, sign the check herself, then use the stamp to forge the signature of the Supervisor, investigators said.

Moore also had a township credit card issued in her name. She allegedly used that credit card to rack up unauthorized purchases of approximately $696,000.

Investigators said Moore also sometimes engaged in the equivalent of money laundering.

She would allegedly transfer money from one Township account to another Township account, giving the appearance of a normal transaction. However, investigators said she then would make another transfer, secretly moving the money from the second Township account to one of her own accounts.

Moore is also alleged to create a phony marriage to defraud the township. An employee’s spouse was eligible for medical benefits under township policy. The defendant pretended to be married to Brian Gore, her long-time romantic partner, resulting in the township paying over $50,000 in benefits for Gore, all of it taxpayer money.

Moore is also alleged to have also manipulated the township’s retirement savings plan to steal money. A savings plan was created through E*Trade. Between 2014 and 2019, the defendant was entitled to $33,000 in payments for retirement savings. Instead, investigators said she directed over $945,000 to her E*Trade account. For instance, in 2018, she was entitled to a payment of $5,000 from the township to this savings account. However, investigators said that Moore gave herself over $353,000 in payments, costing the Kennett taxpayers over $347,000 in lost funds just for 2018.

Investigators said Moore took steps to conceal her fraudulent activities. As an example, investigators said they discovered a document purportedly from the township’s auditor dated December 31, 2012, stating that Moore was owed 10,025 hours of sick/vacation time and 3,052 hours of comp time.

However, investigators said a review of Moore’s computer revealed that she had created that document on April 5, 2019, after the initial fraud report from Capital One. In fact, Moore is alleged to have created two separate such fraudulent documents on April 5, 2019, simply varying the amount of owed sick/vacation time and comp time, in an alleged attempt to cover up her theft. The auditors confirmed that they had issued no such document, investigators said.

Investigators said that Moore spent the stolen money in a variety of ways. She used it to travel to Las Vegas, Italy, and France. She was travelling in France when the fraud was discovered. She spent money at clothing boutiques, such as Michael Kors, Gucci, and Chanel. She bought expensive jewelry. She spent Township money on friends and family members.

All told, Moore is charged with stealing $3,249,453 from Kennett Township over a six­-year span. She has been charged with felony theft, forgery, computer crimes, and related offenses.

When the fraud was discovered, the Township immediately terminated the defendant. The Township also retained the accounting firm Marcum, LLP to assist the Chester County Detectives in the investigation. Ricardo Zayas of Marcum, a former IRS investigator who had previously worked with District Attorney Hogan on large fraud cases, was instrumental in discovering the extent of the defendant’s complex fraud schemes.

“This case is a reminder that a determined insider can always find a way to steal, using their knowledge of internal procedures and policies,” Hogan said. “Because of their inside information, these white collar criminals are more difficult to stop than burglars or armed robbers. However, this case is also a reminder that public officials who steal from taxpayers eventually will be exposed, arrested, and punished. The District Attorney’s Office appreciates the cooperation and work of the Kennett Township Supervisors in this investigation.”

Anybody with any further information should contact Chester County Detective Robert Balchunis at (610) 344-6866.

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