The deeper you dig, the dirtier it gets.
Even on the Main Line.
Radnor Township officials are reeling from an audit report that accuses Dave Bashore, the former township manager, of misspending up to $378,000 in public funds through questionable purchases and unauthorized payments to himself.
The long-awaited report, released Tuesday, is a 48-page crash course on the perils of government secrecy.
It alleges that Bashore, who was fired in April, had turned the affluent community into his personal fiefdom by handing out secret bonuses to loyal employees, altering public records requested by his political enemies, and fudging the numbers to cover his tracks.
"I think we're all outraged," Radnor's interim solicitor, John Rice, said at Monday night's commissioners meeting. He said Bashore had "engaged in a pattern of secrecy, self-dealing and fiscal mismanagement" since he was appointed manager in 2001.
The forensic audit, performed by accounting firm Marcum, uncovered evidence that Bashore may have committed several serious crimes during his tenure. Rice said the report had been turned over to Delaware County, state and federal law-enforcement agencies.
Ronald Surkin, Bashore's attorney, said Tuesday that he hadn't read the report, but denied that his client had done anything wrong. He said that Bashore, as Radnor's chief administrative officer, had the authority to grant the bonuses.
Records show that Bashore doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to employees - including more than $150,000 to himself.
The auditors determined that Bashore concealed the bonuses by shifting the expenses into a sewer-fund account and telling the township payroll clerk to secretly print the checks. He hand-delivered the checks, even to employees who typically received their pay through direct deposit.
"This kind of secrecy encourages personal loyalty to the person granting the bonus and delivering the check rather than the Township, which is the source of the funds," the report states.
Auditors also uncovered $165,500 worth of questionable charges on Bashore's township-issued credit card, some of them allegedly for personal expenses.