It Didn’t Stay Here: East Coast municipal manager allegedly used stolen loot for Las Vegas travel

It Didn't Stay Here

Lisa M. Moore (courtesy Chester County PA District Attorney’s Office)

Ah, the lure of Las Vegas. The gambling. The entertainment. The allegedly embezzled loot.

The latest drawn-to-that-bug-light-known-as-Sin-City tale is that of Lisa M. Moore, 46. She was the appointed manager of Kennett Township, a rural municipality of 8,000 people 40 miles west of Philadelphia where she worked for more than 20 years. If the Chester County District Attorney’s Office is to be believed, despite Kennett Township’s small population, Moore embezzled $3.2 million over six years. Some of that was spent, in the words of the official press release issued last month, “on travel to Las Vegas.”

Her lawyer has told reporters he will be “fully defending” against the charges. Moore was fired last year after the supposed fraud was discovered. She is out on $500,000 bail facing a preliminary hearing next month on 140 counts of theft, forgery, computer offenses and tampering with public records.

While I have no idea where the criminal case will go, the charges alone are more than enough to make Moore a candidate for my list, It Didn’t Stay Here. This is a roster of folks who have gotten into trouble somewhere else for something that happened in Las Vegas. My list is a direct rebuff of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the celebrated marketing slogan of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. You can see all the names elsewhere on this page.

This account is drawn from news coverage in the Philadelphia area, court filings and, above all, the press release issued by then-District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan, which left little to the imagination.

“She stole money intended for employee benefits, the police department, land preservation, and other township operations,” he wrote. “She used the stolen money for extravagant personal expenses such as clothes from Gucci and Chanel, jewelry and travel … This case is all about greed. The defendant was well-compensated, with an annual salary of over $1000,000. 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.”

The amount of ill-gotten gain spent on travel to Las Vegas was not detailed on anything I saw–she also allegedly traveled on the taxpayer’s dime to Italy and France–and probably was a relatively small amount of the whole. But that might have been due to what the DA called her “long-running, multi-pronged scheme to steal.”

According to the DA, Moore employed a number of schemes. She sometimes paid money to herself but didn’t record it in the township records, or listed it as going to regular vendors. She used a township credit card for personal expenses. She made wild and bogus claims for personal overtime. For checks requiring two signatures, she forged the second signature using a rubber signature stamp. She moved money from one township account to another, and then to her own account. Entitled over five years to $33,000 of township money for her retirement account, she put in $945,000.

In perhaps the most audacious scene of all, the DA said, she faked a marriage to her boyfriend, a musician, so he would receive spousal medical benefits of more than $50,000.

According to the DA, it was while Moore was on a trip to France that fraud investigators got wind of wrongdoing and began looking around.

Long before becoming New To Las Vegas, I grew up not far from Kennett Township, where normally the most exciting thing is the local mushroom crop. As you might image, the Moore case has caused quite a furor in Kennett Township. At a standing-room-only meeting of the governing Board of Supervisors a week after Moore’s arrest, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, a former mayor demanded, “Seems you should resign right now. Some of the things we heard tonight suggest incompetence, and that you do not deserve to be here right now.” Officials blamed the theft on lax controls and promised to do better.

Ironically, in my view the allegations against Moore suggest her m.o. toward her bosses was pretty much the way mushrooms are raised locally: Feed ’em crap and keep them in the dark.

There’s no word on whether Moore had any gambling winnings during her travel to Las Vegas. But 2,400 miles away she came up snake eyes in Kennett Township.

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