Since the initial reports of irregularities in the Bellaire Water Department, village residents have had to rely primarily on the rumor mill for insight into what was going on. Mayor Vince DiFabrizio issued a gag order forbidding municipal employees from talking about the issue in early April.
Now more is known - and it is not good. Last week former department clerk Lisa Flaherty was arrested in New York. She is being charged with two felonies involving alleged theft in office and tampering with records.
That is bad enough. Worse was Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk's comment that, "There may be other individuals that are charged as part of this investigation ..."
How much Flaherty and, perhaps, others allegedly stole from the village has not been released. The amount may not be known; one accusation against Flaherty is that she deleted some financial information from village computers.
DiFabrizio's gag order was understandable when it was issued and seems to make even more sense in light of the police chief's remarks. If some sort of conspiracy was afoot, investigators want to keep potential suspects in the dark on how much is known.
More information should be available once formal charges are filed against Flaherty. At least some details will have to be included in documenting accusations against her.
As soon as possible, DiFabrizio should inform the public fully about how much money was taken, who was involved, how long the thefts were in progress and, most important, how the wool was pulled over the eyes of village officials.
Then, perhaps working with the state auditor's office, Bellaire officials should devise a plan under which better oversight is used to prevent such crimes in the future.