Journal Register News Service
NORRISTOWN -- A Spring City woman accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a Norristown law firm where she worked and lying about being sexually assaulted while in custody will undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to a judge's order.
Kathleen Foer-Morse, 49, formerly of Bridge Street, is to be transferred from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to the Montgomery County Emergency Services facility, located on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital, for a competency evaluation, county Judge Steven T. O'Neill has ruled.
Montgomery County Emergency Services, while on the grounds of the state hospital, is not affiliated with the hospital. The agency serves as the county's emergency mental health crisis center.
O'Neill said Foer-Morse will be enrolled in a 60-day treatment and evaluation program. Assistant District Attorney Tracey Potere, who handles mental health and behavioral health cases for the district attorney's office, explained the evaluation will determine if Foer-Morse was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the alleged crime.
"It will also determine if she is competent to proceed to trial," Potere explained.
Foer-Morse's lawyer, Elliott Goldberg, had requested the evaluation under the state's Mental Health Procedures Act, claiming Foer-Morse is showing signs of "extreme emotional upset and crying" and is experiencing tremors.
Goldberg, in court papers, said his Nov. 18 meeting with Foer-Morse revealed that her "emotional condition has deteriorated."
Goldberg claimed he will be unable to continue representing Foer-Morse without the benefit of a current psychiatric evaluation. Foer-Morse cannot pay for an examination, Goldberg said.
"It is essential for purposes of plea discussions to have a current examination," Goldberg wrote in court papers, hinting at a possible mental illness defense.
Foer-More is currently at the county jail in lieu of $99,000 cash bail while awaiting trial on charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, theft by receiving stolen property and forgery for allegedly stealing $100,937 from the Norristown law firm of High Swartz on East Airy Street, where she worked as a paralegal.
Foer-Morse also is charged with unsworn falsification to authorities and making false reports to law enforcement in connection with her alleged false report to Montgomery County prison officials that she had been sexually assaulted by a male prisoner on May 26 while the two were in a holding room at District Court Judge Margaret Hunsicker's Norristown office, where she appeared for her preliminary hearing in the theft-related case.
Prosecutors said a sexual assault never occurred and that numerous police officers, detectives and court staff were near the holding room and didn't observe anything out of the ordinary.
Foer-Morse didn't file a complaint until she got back to the county jail. When she was interviewed about her allegations by county detectives two days later, she confessed that her complaint of a sexual assault was a lie, according to the arrest affidavit.
The alleged theft case involved two estate accounts handled by the law firm. Foer-Morse was hired by the law firm in July 2008 and was fired on May 1, 2009, according to authorities. The alleged thefts from the two estate accounts occurred between November 2008 and May 2009.
Foer-Morse allegedly wrote nine checks, totaling $50,087, from one estate and three checks, totaling $50,850, from the second estate, and forged the names of the executors before depositing the checks into her own accounts.
Foer-Morse obtained the paralegal job while she was awaiting sentencing on grand larceny-related charges in New York, where she pleaded guilty to theft offenses, admitting to stealing $285,000 from a Manhattan law firm for which she once worked.
Investigators learned that Foer-Morse allegedly used the money she stole from the Norristown firm to pay some of the restitution she owed in connection with the New York case.