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Former New Hope treasurer charged with stealing $21K from borough

Former New Hope Treasurer Janell A. Clements was charged last week with stealing $21,000 from the borough from 2014 to 2017.

Bucks County detectives say Clements, 56, of Perkasie, skimmed the money from parking ticket proceeds and alarm fees ($9,271), parking kiosk deposits ($10,721), fees collected for zoning and building permits ($1,102), and other cash payments received at borough hall ($265). Clements allegedly altered deposit slips, removing the cash portion of the deposit, reducing deposit amounts, or reclassifying the cash deposits as credit card payments.

Clements initially denied stealing the money in an interview with police on Jan. 23, but later that day admitted the thefts in an email to police, according to the district attorney’s affidavit.

“I did take that money,” she said in the complaint. “Sometimes it was I’ll take this cash on a Friday and meant to replace it when I went to the ATM, but by the time the weekend was up I’d make the deposit and forget to reimburse the bank bag. I am asking you to keep this as quiet as possible. I know I don’t owe you anything, but if felony charges are filed against me, I will have to divorce my husband or will have to retire, both of which are not good options. I’m not making this an excuse for my actions, but my judgement has not been very good for the past few years.”

Clements was employed for 18 years until April 2017, the same month that an unidentified scammer stole $30,000 from the borough through an email scheme. The money was ultimately reimbursed to New Hope by the bank.

A Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney on May 3, 2017, confirmed that an investigation of the scam by their office was underway, led by Prosecutor Marc Furber. On May 22, borough officials said that the investigation was complete, and that “there has been no criminal intent identified on the part of any borough employee.” Borough officials contradicted that statement on June 27, 2017, stating “the investigation into the perpetrators is ongoing on the part of the District Attorney’s office to identify the source.”

Last week, on Sept. 13, a day after police filed charges against Clements for stealing $21,000, the borough said in a statement that it had “initiated a forensic audit as the result of an attempted wire fraud incident perpetrated against the borough in April of 2016” — likely misstating the year of the original email scam. “Through the forensic audit process, irregularities were reported by the auditors and the district attorney’s office was immediately notified,” the statement continues. “The case and related investigation has been in their hands ever since.”

So, what is the exact relationship between the alleged $30,000 email scam first reported in April 2017 and separate charges filed last week against Clements for purportedly stealing $21,000? Nobody’s talking. The district attorney’s office didn’t return a request for comment, and New Hope officials continue to duck questions.

Clements is expected to appear in court on Oct. 1.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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