Former Village Water Department Clerk Pleads Guilty to Theft

A former Bellaire water clerk pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft in office and tampering with evidence, felonies of the third degree, and tampering with records, a felony of the fourth degree.

Lisa Thai Flaherty, 38, of 4158 Franklin St., Bellaire, will be sentenced Nov. 5.

On April 6, the state auditor’s office was contacted to investigate the suspected theft of utility payments. One day after, Flaherty disappeared from the area. Records on the computer system also vanished.

She was arrested in New York and was extradited back to Belmont County in June.

Since April, the state has conducted a special audit of the water department to determine the total amount missing, estimated at $7,500 to $150,000.

The theft and evidence tampering charges are third-degree felonies, while the records tampering count is a fourth-degree felony. The state recommended a prison term 18 months, and Flaherty has agreed to forfeit her retirement account and pay restitution.

“We’re asking for a prison term,” said Berhalter. “The state auditor’s office did an outstanding job in investigating this matter, and the theft of the public’s money is something we always take seriously – very seriously.”