Published On: Thu, May 25th, 2017

Scandal at New Hope Borough Hall Deepens

New Hope Borough Council President Alison Kingsley.

The controversy over an alleged “financial scam” at New Hope Borough Hall continues to grow, fueled in large part by a series of statements by borough council that appear at best contradictory, and at worst, misleading.

New Hope borough council said Monday that an investigation by Bucks County Prosecutor Marc Furber into a scam that targeted the borough’s “money and financial information” had been completed, and that “there has been no criminal intent identified on the part of any borough employee.”

That statement was issued in response to questions from the Free Press about when borough officials learned of the purported scheme and what they did about it.

But Council President Alison Kingsley forgot to mention that while Furber may have come to the conclusion that there was no “criminal intent” on the part of borough employees, the borough still considered the personnel issue unresolved, according to reports. And contrary to Kingsley’s claim,  the scheme continues to be probed by the prosecutor,  who won’t return phone calls on the case.

In fact, the Free Press has learned that a borough employee was served legal notice last week, according to a knowledgeable source. Kingsley refused to comment, and Borough Manager Cathryn Thomas again declined to comment on when she found out about the scheme and what actions she undertook in response.

New Hope officials first announced the existence of the scam and their investigation into it on April 29.  Although they said at the time that “there hasn’t been any loss sustained…nor was any information breached or accessed,” the Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney on May 3 confirmed that an investigation of the matter by their office was underway, led by Prosecutor Furber.

Then, on May 22, New Hope council issued a statement saying Furber’s investigation had concluded.

“The borough was subjected to the financial scam perpertrated [sic] through emails on April 24th,” reads the council’s May 22 statement. “The incident was detected within one hour and the proper steps taken to insure the borough did not incur any financial loss from this incident. Further, the staff and council have initiated appropriate measures to minimize the chances of a similar incident occurring in the future.

 

“The incident investigation by the district attorney’s office is complete, and there has been no criminal intent identified on the part of any borough employee with regard to this incident,” the statement continues.

L to R: Borough Manager Cathryn Thomas, Borough Council President Alison Kingsley, and Borough Solicitor T. J. Walsh.

Meanwhile, Kingsley for the third time evaded key questions posed by the Free Press: How did the scam work? How was the scam detected? Why was the D.A. called in on a phishing attempt? When did Borough Manager Cathryn Thomas find out and what role did she play in addressing the scheme? Was any information stored in the borough’s computer network compromised? Since several changes are being made to borough policies and procedures, which ones failed to prevent the attempt? What was discussed at the executive session of council held May 18? Why does the public need to wait until “more information is available” if the investigation is complete?

We now know the answer to the last question: the investigation is not complete, contrary to what borough officials would lead us to believe.

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About the Author

- Born in Brooklyn, raised at the Jersey Shore, lives in New Hope with wife, two kids, and too many rescued animals. Masters in politics from New York University. Former head of communications for MetLife, Vonage, Lincoln Financial. Former reporter for New Hope Gazette. Makes sure the Editorial and Advertising departments are kept separate.

Displaying 4 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. jcrilley3@comcast.net' JoeSchmoe says:

    Everyone should calm down, it probably is much ado about nothing. Most people who are on Borough Council are not “self important” politicians, just people who are trying to give back to their community.

  2. origin11@comcast.net' JaneAdele says:

    I agree with Ms. Kingsley. Let the investigation continue as it should, and then discuss in public when Council has all the facts and conclusions.

    To ask what was discussed at an Executive Session on May 18th is futile. Executive Sessions are private. Council can announce that it is a personnel or legal matter, but that’s it.

    Let’s all cool our jets and let the facts come out responsibly.

  3. Stoutpainting@verizon.net' Barry Stout says:

    With any politician follow the money.

  4. Keep digging Charlie. This stinks. Will anyone be the least bit surprised if these self-important local politicians turn out to be dirty???

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