The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 24, 2013

Former township secretary gets jail for $10G theft

EBENSBURG — A former Portage Township secretary was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to nine to 23 months in Cambria County Prison for taking more than $10,000 in taxpayer money for her personal use.

Lisa Flynn, 47, of the 700 block of Orchard Street, Portage, was sentenced by Judge Patrick Kiniry.

The prison sentence will be followed by five years probation, Kiniry ordered.

Flynn, who worked for the township from 2007 to March 2012, admitted taking $10,484 over a period of several years, money she said she needed to help support her and her five children.

The restitution due from Flynn totals about $20,900, a figure that reflects the more than $10,000 cost of a forensic audit conducted after the thefts were discovered.

She was charged in June 2012 with forgery, tampering with records, receiving stolen property and theft by deception.

Flynn entered a guilty plea to a single count of receiving stolen property, a felony.

At the time of the plea, she turned $7,000 over to the court with the promise to pay the remainder in payments of $400 a month.

Kiniry agreed to place Flynn on work release so she can maintain her full-time job at a personal care home and pay the remainder of the restitution.

As part of the sentencing order, Kiniry instructed the Cambria County Clerk of Courts to turn the full $7,000 already paid by Flynn over to Portage Township officials.

Normally, a portion of the restitution goes toward costs and fines, money that the county will receive from Flynn’s future payments.

In addressing Flynn, Kiniry asked, “Do you realize how much trouble you caused?”

When he asked her how she thought she would get away with stealing, she responded, “I was just desperate for my children.”

Supervisors Richard Olshavsky and Elwood Selapack, whose names she forged on township checks, were present for the sentencing and did not address the judge.

Later, speaking outside the courtroom, they said they took special care to review the township’s monthly financial activity, but Flynn was able to cover up the missing money for some time.

 “As careful as we were, as much as we went through those checks,” Olshavsky said.

As part of her duties, Flynn was responsible for issuing payroll checks and some other accounts to cover day-to-day expenses.

The supervisors said it took some time for the thefts to surface because Flynn would scan Olshavsky and Selapack’s names from checks they signed onto checks made out to her.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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