The former president of a Northland ambulance district pleaded guilty Tuesday to buying land he knew could be sold for a planned new station. He eventually sold the property to the district at a substantial profit.
Kevin N. Rawlings, 40, of Dearborn was charged in February with one misdemeanor count of misuse of public information. Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said Rawlings bought land near the Camden Point exit on Interstate 29 and then sold part of it to the Northland Regional Ambulance District.
Zahnd said Rawlings purchased 34 acres in April 2010 for $130,000. He resold 1.5 acres to the ambulance district in March 2011 for $175,000. Based on assessments of his remaining holdings, Zahnd said, Rawlings made $144,000 from the land transactions.
There was no record that the agency had the land appraised at that time, the prosecutor said. However, an appraisal in November 2011 put the 1.5 acres’ worth at $30,600.
Rawlings and his attorney declined to comment following Tuesday’s brief hearing. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1. Rawlings is expected to offer testimony disputing the value of the land.
Rawlings was elected board president in 2006. He knew as early as 2008 that the district wanted to build a new station near Route U at the Camden Point exit, Zahnd said.
During a board meeting in September 2010, Rawlings directed the group’s executive director to begin searching for available property in the same area. A month later, the ambulance district board voted to begin negotiations to purchase two acres of the land owned by Rawlings.
At a closed board meeting in November 2010, the district’s attorney suggested that bid specifications be written to solicit bids from the public for property in the Camden Point area.
Those requests for bids were posted in local newspapers, but Rawlings was the only person to make a formal proposal. Negotiations to purchase that property from Rawlings had begun before the bid posting.
When another potential seller came forward, Rawlings directed the executive director to reply that the ambulance district already had “a contract on (the) ground” and wouldn’t need more bids, Zahnd said.
Rawlings could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.