Former Northland ambulance district president is sentenced to jail, must pay restitution

The former president of a Northland ambulance district must pay restitution, spend 15 days in jail and serve a year of probation for misusing public information, a Platte County judge ruled Thursday.

Kevin N. Rawlings, 40, of Dearborn, pleaded guilty in October to buying land he knew could be sold for a planned new station. He eventually sold some of the property to the Northland Regional Ambulance District at a substantial profit.

Associate Circuit Judge Dennis Eckold ordered Rawlings to pay $125,000 in restitution within 30 days to the district and serve a 15-day jail term as “shock time.”

Rawlings was placed on one year probation and must also pay $650 to reimburse the prosecutor’s office for an appraisal of the property.

He declined to comment after the sentencing.

Prosecutors charged Rawlings in February with one misdemeanor count of misuse of public information.

He had paid $130,000 in April 2010 for 34 acres near Interstate 29 and the Camden Point exit and then sold 1.5 acres of the land to the ambulance district in March 2011 for $175,000. Based on assessments of his remaining holdings, Rawlings made $144,000 from the land transactions, said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd.

There was no record that the agency had the land appraised at that time, Zahnd said. However, an appraisal in November 2011 valued the 1.5 acres at $30,600.

Rawlings was elected ambulance district 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. A month later, the ambulance district board voted to begin negotiations to buy two acres of Rawlings’ land.

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 buy that property from Rawlings had started 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.