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Kennett Township’s former manager got jail time for a $3.2 million fraud scheme

Lisa Moore pleaded guilty during a hearing Monday in West Chester. Said a township official: "She upended lives, destroyed public trust and smeared the names of all our public officials.”

Lisa Moore, the former manager of Kennett Township, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $3 million from the municipality.
Lisa Moore, the former manager of Kennett Township, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $3 million from the municipality.Read moreDavid Swanson / Staff Photographer

As about two dozen angry, frustrated residents looked on, a former Kennett Township manager was sentenced to prison Monday after she admitted siphoning $3.2 million from the municipality to buy clothes, travel, and pay down her credit card debt.

Lisa Moore, 48, pleaded guilty to theft by deception, forgery, and related offenses in West Chester before Chester County Court Judge David Bortner.

Under her plea agreement, Moore was sentenced to three-to-10 years in state prison, followed by five years of probation. During that time, she is barred from holding a job that comes with fiduciary responsibility and must disclose her conviction to any employers.

Whitney Hoffman, the vice chair of the township‘s board of supervisors, told the judge that Moore was respected and well-liked around the township. Her fraud, Hoffman said, stunned the town of about 8,000 people.

“This betrayal by Lisa Moore plunged our township into a crisis of distrust and uncertainty,” Hoffman said. “She didn’t merely steal money. She upended lives, destroyed public trust, and smeared the names of all our public officials.”

Moore did not address the court or the residents who came to the hearing.

But her attorney, Julia Rogers, said Moore is “hell-bent on making the township whole.” On Monday, Moore returned $1.72 million to the township, more than half of the full restitution she has been ordered to repay.

“This conduct here will forever overshadow everything she’s done for her community,” Rogers said. “And she will likely never change that.”

Moore was charged in 2019 with dozens of counts of forgery, theft, tampering with public records, and related offenses.

Prosecutors, led by Deputy District Attorney William Judge Jr., said that her “long-running, multipronged scheme” came to light when fraud investigators from Capital One flagged three years’ worth of suspicious transfers from a township business account to Moore’s personal checking account. The money Moore stole was intended for township services, including paying for its police department, and her theft resulted in higher health insurance payments for township employees.

“This sentence should send a message,” Judge said. “That when you are a steward of funds … you are elected to represent people who struggle to pay their taxes, but nevertheless do, and in turn rely on taxpayer-funded services in their daily lives.”

Moore hid her tracks in a variety of ways, in some cases laundering the stolen money by shuffling payments through multiple township accounts, investigators said. At one point, they said, she pretended to be married, and forged documents to provide more than $50,000 in medical benefits to a male friend.

Township supervisors fired Moore shortly after the fraud was discovered. She had worked for the township for more than 20 years and had almost complete control over the township’s finances, a lack of oversight that investigators believe allowed the fraud to continue for so many years.

» READ MORE: ‘We realize the buck stops here’: Kennett Township officials explain how an ex-employee stole millions

During an interview with county detectives, Moore admitted to cutting checks to herself from the township general fund to avoid payroll taxes. She said she understood that “what she was doing was not proper,” according to the affidavit of probable cause for her arrest.

Investigators estimate that she inflated her annual salary — which rose to $130,000 during the scheme — to as much as $297,000 by falsely boosting what she was owed for unused comp time. She authorized those and other payments by forging the signature of Township Supervisor Scudder Stevens using a stamp molded to resemble his handwriting, according to investigators.