Former Bellaire water clerk arraigned

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – After being arrested in New York and brought back to Belmont County, Lisa Thai Flaherty, 38, 4158 Franklin St., Bellaire, was arraigned Thursday and pleaded not guilty to several crimes allegedly committed during her tenure as water department clerk for Bellaire.

Prosecutor Chris Berhalter represented the state. Public Defender Eric Costine represented Flaherty. Magistrate Amy Busic presided.

Flaherty faces two charges of tampering with evidence, a felony of the third degree, one charge tampering with records, a felony of the fourth degree, all occurring April 5, 2012, and one count theft in office, a felony of the third degree occurring Jan. 1, 2011.

Her bond of $500,000 was continued. Pre-trial is Oct. 9, with plea agreement set for Oct. 22 and trial Nov. 1. Judge Jennifer L. Sargus will preside.

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

“Today we asked that the bond remained at $500,000. We have some real concerns about her being a flight risk and that was obviously played out when the state auditor’s office had to travel to the state of New York to find her,” said Berhalter. “We do view these charges as very serious and plan to prosecute them as such.”

Since April, the state has conducted a special audit of the water department to determine the total amount missing.

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