A former Cass County official is scheduled to be formally arraigned after a Johnson County judge found probable cause that a felony was committed when the official allegedly received stolen property during his tenure as Cass County auditor.
Ron Johnson, who served as county auditor from 2011 to 2014, appeared in court Tuesday in Cass County for a preliminary hearing with Johnson County Associate Circuit Judge Chad N. Pfister presiding.
Last September, in a probable cause statement, authorities accused Johnson of stealing equipment, petty cash and claiming false reimbursements for food, fuel, mileage, cellular devices and other personal items. The overall estimated monetary loss sustained by Cass County was $2,865.09, according to court documents. Authorities said the theft occurred from September 2011 to October 2014.
The case was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and was assigned to a special prosecutor with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. As a result of the state highway patrol’s investigation, Johnson was charged with receiving stolen property, a Class C felony. A warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest in October. He was released on his own recognizance and is not in custody.
Previous reports from the Cass County Democrat-Missourian said the Missouri Attorney General’s Office requested an investigation into the former auditor after the current county auditor, Ryan Wescoat, submitted an audit report to law enforcement officials in September 2015. The audit report concluded that Johnson had used a county credit card to buy items such as food, gasoline, a phone, a television and other personal devices.
Wescoat told the paper last year that he began investigating Johnson’s spending during his first months as auditor in 2015 after he could not locate equipment purchased by his predecessor. Wescoat also said the auditor’s office is statutorily required to audit outgoing elected officials’ financial records.
Court records indicate Johnson, representing himself in the case, filed a motion earlier this year to have the case dismissed. The motion was denied in May.
Records also indicate Johnson waived his right to counsel. Online court records as of Wednesday did not have an attorney listed for Johnson.
As a result of Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, the court wrote it found probable cause “that a felony has been committed and that the defendant committed that felony.” The judge ordered a formal arraignment, and the case was assigned to Division I Circuit Judge William B. Collins in Cass County.
Johnson did not immediately return a request for comment.
An arraignment is scheduled 1:30 p.m. Aug. 7 in Cass County Circuit Court.