The former secretary/treasurer of Lackawaxen Township, Shawn Marie Roe, 58, was sentenced April 12 for embezzling over $200,000 in township funds.

LACKAWAXEN TWP. - The former secretary/treasurer of Lackawaxen Township, Shawn Marie Roe, 58, was sentenced April 12 for embezzling over $200,000 in township funds. Pike County Court ordered her to spend 16 months to seven years in state prison.

She appeared before acting President Judge Gregory Chelak.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said that as a part of the sentencing order issued by the Court, Roe must also pay restitution in the amount of $12,000 to Lackawaxen Township and $215,320 to Selective Insurance Company of America.

Roe’s sentencing came after she plead guilty to the crimes of Theft, Access Device Fraud and Unlawful Use of a Computer in February.  The charges came after officials in Lackawaxen Township requested an audit of Township’s finances after suspecting that money was missing from Township accounts, Tonkin said. 

After the audit was performed by an accounting firm, it was discovered that Roe had through several means transferred money toward personal expenses.  Roe stole the money through use of an unauthorized Paypal account, unauthorized debit card purchases, township checks that were to family members or for other improper expenditures and through payroll checks that included amounts beyond her annual approved rate. 

Roe was removed from her positions in the Township after the discovery of the thefts in 2013.  As a part of Roe’s plea in February, she admitted to stealing over $200,000 between 2003 and 2013 from the Township.

The Court ordered Roe to pay back the $12,000 the Township for which it was not compensated through its insurance carrier.  The order also requires Roe to pay restitution to the insurance company for the over $215,000 that it had compensated the Township.

Not a “mistake”

At the sentencing hearing, First Assistant District Attorney Bruce DeSarro, who prosecuted the case, took issue with Roe’s statement to the Pike County Probation Office that her crimes were a mistake and that she did not know why she did it. 

DeSarro argued to the Court that her actions were not mistakes but a series of repeated intentional acts over a ten-year period.  Further, DeSarro stated that her reason for committing theft is obvious and the same as anyone who commits the crime of theft, to steal the property of others.  After the sentencing hearing, District Attorney Ray Tonkin stated that “Roe’s actions were a betrayal of the taxpayers of Lackawaxen Township for which she was appropriately punished with a sentence to state prison.”

Chairman responds

Michael Mancino, Chairman of the Lackawaxen Township Board of Supervisors, was asked for a comment. Mancino was not on the board at the time of Shawn Roe’s employment.

“Shawn’s sentencing from my understanding was based on state sentencing guidelines for the crimes that were committed.” Mancino said. “I believe that the Pike County DA’s Office were diligent in their service to the residents of Lackawaxen Township and the sentence is fair and just.   I would like to thank Former Supervisor Bob Cocchi for all the work he did providing the auditors and the DA’s Office with all the necessary documents that uncovered the depth of the crime. On a personal note, I wish the entire Roe family peace and hope that after this sentence is served, Shawn is able to move past this time in her life and find peace.”

Safeguards set up

Mancino said that several safeguards have been put in place since this incident to prevent this sort of event now and in the future.

“Currently, all checks need three signatures instead of two,” Mancino stated. “Two supervisors and the treasurer.  Supervisor signature stamps are no longer allowed.  Detailed bills are now presented to the public and approved at each meeting vs. just an amount that was announced at each meeting.” 

“A detailed treasurers report is now presented at each meeting which gives the public the opportunity to see where we are according to the annual budget and where taxpayer funds are being spent,” Mancino said. “This was not done previously.  All time sheets are reviewed and approved by the secretary and treasurer.  Our treasurer reconciles all bank accounts and credit card usage each month and shares any questions or errors with the three supervisors.”

He added that monthly balances for all accounts are provided along with the treasurer’s report.

Parole condition

Roe is currently housed in the Pike County Correctional Facility awaiting transfer to state prison. 

Tonkin stated that as a part of Roe’s sentence, the Court ordered as a special condition of parole that the Roe be prohibited from being a director or an officer of any non-profit corporation or government entity and the she be prohibited from being a signatory on any bank or other financial account of any non-profit corporation or government entity.