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Liberty Township forensic investigation released

Danielle Ryan

(9/22) The forensic investigation conducted by Karen Frey, PhD at Gettysburg College on Liberty Township’s financial misconduct was released to the public August 31. The report was briefly discussed during the Board of Supervisor’s meeting on September 5, but some residents are still upset and state that this investigation is not comprehensive enough and doesn’t serve as a solution to the problem.

The forensic investigative report showed that the financial irregularities in question totaled close to $90,000, a number that is more than triple the amount of the originally estimated $24,000. Frey found several examples showing misuse of the Township’s money during previous Secretary LeeEsta Shafer’s time employed by the Township. Money was misspent, misused and stolen over the course of a decade.

As Township Treasurer, Shafer was responsible for providing the Treasurer’s Report each month, which showed a detailed list of Township expenses and revenue. Frey found several occurrences where the beginning balance for one month didn’t match the ending balance of the prior month. Even more concerning, was the submission of the same Treasurer’s Report two months in a row. These errors were overlooked or unseen for years. Documentation showed that every set of Board Meeting minutes mentioned approval of both the Treasurer’s Report and the paying of all bills, however the paying of bills was authorized without proper supporting documentation. Whether this is simply sloppy, uneducated work, or fraudulent cause by Shafer, can’t be determined without proper documentation.

Additionally, the report showed that records were not properly maintained; payments were often made late, incurring penalties, late fees and interest; payroll sheets were missing; invoices were missing; and the documents that were available were completely unorganized. Questionable charges to Old Navy, Pizza Hut, Sunoco, Flower Boutique, Back the Alley, WalMart, House of Bender, and ChickCoop, as well as an excessive number of purchases from Microsoft, QuickBooks, Intuit, and Staples are certainly concerning, as they seem to have been overseen by the Board. However, once again, without proper documentation of filed receipts, it can’t be determined whether these purchases were legitimate Township purchases or personal purchases using the Township’s money.

However, even without proper documentation, the report still found over-paid wages with taxes and benefits, overpaid hours with taxes and benefits and overpaid mileage over the course of ten years totaling a loss to the Township of $49,363.10. Another unknown facet to the financial misconduct was Shafer’s error in calculating one employee’s cost to insure himself and his spouse. According to Shafer’s records, the township paid $34.231.68, while the withholding was only $13,080.77, a difference of $21,150.91.

"It’s eye opening, it really is," said Supervisor Chairman John Bostek in response to the investigative report. Scoffs from the residents in attendance could be heard in response to the statement. The root of the cause seems to point to the lack of proper management of the Board of Supervisors, something residents have been voicing concerns over for months now. Even more concerning to some residents was the comment that charges will not be pressed against Shafer. Residents also want to know when an official forensic audit will be performed to provide a truly comprehensive list of numbers. The Supervisors and staff gave no answer.

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