FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2022
Boggs Changes His Story: New False Claims Debunked
UPPER DARBY, PA: Tonight, the slim majority of Council’s hand-picked investigator has caved to the pressure of the all-white finance committee’s obvious agenda for this partisan, biased investigation. While many questioned the back-room appointment of Christopher Boggs, a defense attorney with no documented experience with municipal or financial matters - let alone the intricacies of municipal accounting - from the beginning, it has become painfully clear that his primary qualifications are his long service to the Republican Party and a willingness to deceive the public to achieve a partisan goal.
The slim majority of Council, who many in the community have come to refer to as the “white power six” or simply the “shameful six,” have never hidden their intentions - they want to undermine the Mayor and the Chief Administrative Officer. In fact, Councilman Andrew Hayman stated at tonight’s meeting to Boggs, “you and I discussed several times through the month of August and into the month of September what the justification is for the report in the first place. You stated to me multiple times that the former mayor, Tom Micozzie, the chair of Upper Darby Republican Party, was ‘intimately involved’ with this report,” Hayman said. “You [Boggs] said that he recruited your law firm to do this report specifically and you have said that you find it hard to believe that he is not in constant communication with President Burke, Councilor Wagner, and Vice President Wentz.”
Knowing this, it is not surprising that their hand-picked lawyer with no relevant qualifications arrived at their predetermined conclusions – it is only surprising that Boggs freely admitted, in writing just weeks ago, that he did not have evidence to back up these conclusions.
According to his own report, Boggs relied primarily on “consultations” with a single disgraced former employee who has previously been caught lying about the ARPA funds to cover his own culpability - neither interviewing nor even submitting questions to a single member of the Township’s finance department during the relevant time period. These interviews would have been elucidating–Boggs may have experience as a criminal defense attorney, but he is obviously unfamiliar with municipal accounting - and defamation law. Three weeks ago, Boggs admitted as much when he stated to Council that he is in no position to criticize Marcum LLP, an independent accounting and consulting firm with decades of municipal accounting. Yet now his report purports to completely reject the analysis and conclusions of the Marcum report.
Municipal accounting is complicated, as anyone who attempts to read either the Marcum report, authored by independent, experienced municipal accountants, or the Boggs report, authored by a criminal defense attorney with no municipal accounting experience, can appreciate. It is not clear why no one with expertise in accounting was willing to put their name on the Boggs report, but the report cites no professional accountants or auditors as authors or consultants. This is likely why the report also fails to cite any basic accounting principles as authority for its conclusions.
The Boggs report makes a number of sweeping claims, each of which are either backed with no evidence or have already been thoroughly debunked by other reliable sources.
Claim One - The Administration spent ARPA Proceeds without the authorization of UDT Council.
Proved false by: During their presentation on May 19 of this year, Marcum - a top national CPA (Certified Public Accountant) firm engaged by Mayor Keffer directly - stated that they had performed analyses of the actual bank balances of general fund bank accounts comparing them to the ARP funds from December 1, 2021 through February 7, 2022 and determined that the actual bank balances exceeded the ARP funds at all times. They have made clear that the “inspection of available documents and meeting transcripts shows that only $6 million for revenue replacement has been approved as of May 10, 2022 and the remaining ARP funds have not been appropriated.” Unlike Council’s investigation led by Solicitor Boggs, Marcum conducted in depth interviews with multiple staff at Upper Darby Township, Treasurer Haman, and the disgruntled former employee Boggs also spoke with, and concluded that, “despite numerous interviews, no person reported or provided information alleging misuse of the ARP funds.” Treasurer Haman himself, whose false Treasurer’s report kicked off both these investigations, stated at the meeting tonight, “the administration has not withheld any information that I have asked for,” in explanation as to why he’s stopped giving Treasurers reports since. Haman has since repeatedly asked for Council to appropriate the ARPA funding.
Claim Two - The Administration used restricted funds to make their representation of February 7, 2022 that all the ARPA proceeds were in their own PLGIT account.
Proved false by: The Marcum report details clearly the transactions that took place to segregate the ARPA Funds - which is not required by federal law under the Final Rule - at Council’s request. “The PLGIT ARP account x5050 was opened on February 4, 2022 with transfers from the PLGIT general fund account x5013 totaling $13,581,101.21. Additionally, the following transfers into the PLGIT ARP account x5050 were made on February 7, 2022:
$3,576,006.34 was transferred from the WF general fund account x9773;
$390,000.00 was transferred from the Citizens Bank24 general fund account x9157; and
$3,333,861.45 was transferred from the Santander general fund account x5237.
The above transactions brought the balance in the PLGIT ARP account x5050 to $20,880,969.”
All of the transfers detailed here clearly originate from general fund accounts which, by their nature, do not contain restricted funds. In this section of his report, Boggs has made further, largely inaccurate claims pertaining to the Highway and Liquid Fuels restricted accounts. This money does not come from the state, it comes from the county. It is a reimbursement to the general fund and should be deposited there. The complete lack of accuracy on this page of his report does not instill any confidence in Boggs or his ‘accountant’s’ understanding of municipal finances.
Claim Three - The Administration violated the UDT Home Rule Charter by not keeping distinct accounts of all sums received by taxes and other sources.
Proved false by: This is a wildly inaccurate reading of the Home Rule Charter and misrepresents the daily accounting practices of Upper Darby Township. Upper Darby does keep a distinct accounting of all sums received by taxes and other sources - if it was otherwise there would be an audit finding at the end of each year which would flag the error. The Home Rule Charter does not say taxes must be separated, it states in Section C-504 that the Township “must keep distinct accounts of all sums received,” only specifying that accounts must be kept, not that taxes must be separated. At no point during their investigation did Boggs ask to see any accounting related to the collection of taxes and other Township fees. Our auditor, Christopher Herr, has stated that in fact, many municipal funds are commingled in the general accounts alongside taxes including permits, fines, charges for services, etc. Boggs has clearly misinterpreted the Home Rule Charter in making this claim, further showing his lack of qualifications to make any determination of violations of the HRC.
Claim Four - The Administration violated the UDT Home Rule Charter by over spending the budget by $1.7 million.
Proved false by: One cannot state that there is a deficit until the final adjustments for 2021 are made. Upper Darby operates off a cash basis which means that while our fiscal year ends in 2021, many transactions occur in the early months of 2022 that are a part of the 2021 fiscal budget. The Township is working through the 2021 year end financials and the $1.7 million deficit referenced in Boggs’ report will change once that is completed. Neither Boggs or his “accountant” are auditors and do not have the qualifications required to audit the Township financials and say whether or not the Township went over budget. If this were to be true, it would be flagged in the yearly audit, which is underway. Additionally, as CAO Rongione and Brinker Simpson have both stated, these $1.7 million expenditures that they see are offset by grant money which will be journaled as revenue for 2021.
Claim Five - The Administration violated Federal Law when they submitted a false certification to the Federal Government.
Proved false by: This claim is proved false by all evidence given so far in this release and by the Marcum report as well. For the federal law to be violated by the certification submitted, ARPA funding would have needed to be spent without approval from Council. Marcum has stated clearly that “at all times the general fund bank account balances exceeded $20.88 million,” where the ARPA funds were located. Once funds are commingled, Marcum detailed that dollars can no longer be told apart. Essentially no dollar is labeled “tax” or “ARPA” until they are in a segregated account. This is completely allowable under the Final Rule. Marcum wrote “despite possible concerns expressed by UDT Council members and others, regulations and other guidance published by the U.S. Treasury did not require amounts remitted to municipalities pursuant to ARP be maintained in a separate deposit account.”
Based on all the evidence above, Boggs failed to accurately prove that ARPA funds had been spent without approval, and therefore, no federal laws could have been violated. All ARPA funds are subject to audits conducted directly by the federal government. If any of these claims were to somehow contain any truth, the federal government would discover evidence of wrongdoing. Every member of the Administration is aware of this requirement from the federal government. This is a wild and dangerous accusation to make as it potentially spreads unfounded fears and misinformation to the public, particularly considering this claim was labeled as “UNDETERMINED” in Boggs’ report and was still included and presented as an accusation against the Administration.
In summation, Boggs’ report and presentation are full of proven false accusations and misinformation. This report does a disservice to the public, whose tax dollars were wasted on a political witch hunt. “The Keffer administration has been fully transparent and open since questions were first raised in a malicious sneak attack ‘Treasurer’s Report’ that was orchestrated in bad faith and in violation of the Home Rule Charter by Councilperson Wentz and the disgruntled and disgraced former Finance Director, Gary Merron,” said Mayor Barbarann Keffer. “Even the Treasurer himself has rescinded his statements and asked Council to move on and appropriate the ARPA funds. We now have two reports that say no money is missing and there is no reason to not allocate the ARPA funds. It’s time to put this petty divide behind us and move on. ”