New Hope Borough Council President Alison Kingsley once again ducked questions on the borough’s mysterious financial scandal, now entering its fourth month, instead issuing an awkwardly-worded statement that raised as many questions as it answered.
New Hope officials first announced the existence of a “scam” and their investigation into it on April 29. Although they said on May 22 that “there hasn’t been any loss sustained…nor was any information breached or accessed,” the borough’s latest statement now reveals that the perpetrator made off with $30,000, which was “re-deposited” days later, apparently by the banking institution involved.
Further, while council maintained on May 22 that, “The incident investigation by the district attorney’s office is complete,” their latest statement contradicts that factoid: “The investigation into the perpetrators is ongoing on the part of the District Attorney’s office to identify the source,” reads the June 27 missive.
A Bucks County first assistant district attorney on May 3 confirmed that an investigation of the matter by their office was underway, led by Prosecutor Marc Furber.
The following is the full text of Kingsley’s June 27 statement, in all its glory:
The New Hope Borough received an email on April 24th, 2017 at 6:48 AM from an email address that appeared to be the Borough Manager’s email. It was sent from what appeared to be her cell phone and indicated that “ there was a pending invoice that I would like you to cover today. Let me know when you are available to process payment so I can forward you the details.”
At 8:24 AM a second email arrived from again what appeared to be the Borough Manager’s email and cell phone with wiring Instructions to pay the invoice number provided in the amount of $30,000. It is not known if anyone else saw the emails prior. The wire transfer was initiated 9:10 AM. When the Borough Manager arrived at the office at 10:20, she was informed that her instructions had been followed. At that time it became apparent that the instructions had not come from the Borough Manager and that the Borough had been scammed.
The bank, police, insurance companies, and council president were immediately notified. Within several hours of the attempt, the accounts were frozen. Several days later, after proper verifications were provided to the banking institutions involved, the money was redeposited into the Borough’s account and there was no loss of funds. The District Attorney investigated the incident and concluded that there was not criminal activity on the part of any Borough employee. The investigation into the perpetrators is ongoing on the part of the District Attorney’s office to identify the source.
One glaring mystery generated by Kingsley’s latest epistle is whom at “The New Hope Borough” received and apparently acceded to the bogus April 24 request by the “borough manager” for $30,000. That person, from Kingsley’s statement, seems to have been in the office prior to the arrival that day of Borough Manager Cathie Thomas, who also is not chatty on the matter.
Thomas reports to Kingsley, and oversees Assistant Borough Manager and Treasurer Janell Clements, who is responsible for payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, budget reconciliation, grants administration, and preparation of monthly and annual financial statements.
Attempts to interview Clements at borough hall revealed that she has left her job. Kingsley won’t shed light on the terms of Clements’ departure, nor much else of late, deepening the shadows of secrecy around borough hall, even as the days turn steamy under the scorching sun.