Ex-borough secretary charged with stealing $30K



A former Versailles secretary has been charged with stealing more than $30,000 from the borough.

Jennifer Richards, 31, was charged on Tuesday for allegedly misappropriating $30,657.70 in borough funds while she was secretary, according to police.

Richards, of Larimer, Westmoreland County,  was hired by the borough in October 2012, and fired on Dec. 9 for failing to show up for work and lack of work, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.

After her termination, borough officials asked then-interim secretary Barbara Warhold to reconcile the borough's accounts.

Her initial review showed that the borough's accounts hadn't been reconciled since August 2013 and that Richards allegedly made a series of questionable ATM purchases and withdrawals on borough accounts and issued unauthorized checks to herself.

Further review of borough finances revealed that Richards allegedly made 22 unauthorized point of sale purchases and 10 ATM withdrawals totaling $4,095.75; issued four unauthorized payroll checks to herself worth $4,678.74; and altered or issued 19 other unauthorized checks worth a total of $21,883.21.

At the time of her hiring, Richards was interviewed by council and the mayor and was not known to any borough officials prior to her employment, according to the complaint.

The borough initially notified the District Attorney's Office of the potential theft on Dec. 18.

Borough Solicitor Pat McGrail said on Tuesday that the borough has cooperated fully with the District Attorney's Office and was “pleased that the investigation has been completed.”

Council president Emerson Fazekas said of the matter, “It is sad that it happened.”

He said the secretary's position is bonded and the borough may be able to recover some of the lost funds.

Richards was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Thomas Miller in White Oak on Tuesday on felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and access device fraud and a misdemeanor count of misapplication of entrusted property.

Richards waived the case to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and was released on $5,000 unsecured bail. Her formal arraignment is set for Aug. 21.

Richards' attorney Tom Farrell declined comment.

On Wednesday, Channel 11’s Alan Jennings talked with some pretty upset neighbors, including Cathy Kelley.

“This borough? Oh, who knew? My, how’d she do it?” Kelley said.

Jennings tried to talk with Richards Wednesday, but a female voice at her listed address said, “no Jennifer here.”

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.