Former West Brownsville tax collector accused of stealing from borough

January 9, 2013
Cindy L. Lacey

The former real estate tax collector for West Brownsville was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $115,000 from borough coffers over a six-year period.

Cindy L. Lacey, 58, of 619 River St., West Brownsville, was arraigned before District Judge Joshua Kanalis on one count of felony theft filed by Washington County Detective James A. McElhaney. Lacey served as elected tax collector from 2002 until May, when she resigned.

Borough officials contacted the office of Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone Sept. 21. An audit of the borough’s tax collector account had been performed for the years 2005 through 2011.

“For the past few tax years, the borough officials have noticed in the budget that the income funds continued to go down even though they hadn’t lost any tax base, so they requested the audit,” McElhaney said.

The audit showed that $115,940 was stolen from the account. The detective alleges that Lacey stole between $10,000 to $26,000 a year between 2005 and 2011.

Lacey gave McElhaney a written statement in which she reportedly admitted to stealing the money from the tax collector account. She told him she used the money for personal items. The detective said the borough is seeking restitution. Lacey was bonded.

Lacey, who waived her preliminary hearing and formal arraignment Wednesday, was placed in the Washington County jail on $115,000 bond.

Phone calls to the borough office Wednesday went unanswered.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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