Crime

Former Raytown school board president charged with stealing, misusing district card

The former president of the Raytown school board was charged Monday with felony stealing of school funds.

She’s accused of using a school district credit card to buy personal items such as bags of candy, orange juice, garbage bags and pink lemonade.

Kristie L. Collins, of Kansas City, had cited personal reasons when she resigned from the school board in May. But a district memo announcing her resignation said, “The Board of Education is currently reviewing Dr. Collins’s use of the district purchasing card.”

Jackson County prosecutors allege that the school district conducted an audit of a purchase card used by Collins between April 1, 2018 and March 31 that revealed a number of suspected fraudulent purchases.

Collins submitted a receipt for a purchase made at the Hy-Vee Market Grille in Belton. Members of the school district’s finance department noted that the Hy-Vee in Belton did not have a Market Grille.

An examination later done by the KPM accounting firm showed that Collins tried to disguise personal shopping as work-related lunch or dinner meetings with various persons listed as being attendance.

The accounting firm documented more than $4,300 in fraudulent purchases, prosecutors allege.

The review further showed 44 of 88 total listed transactions during that time frame “demonstrated improper or questionable use” of the purchase card.

Collins allegedly submitted receipts for purchases made at Hy-Vee grocery stores in Independence, Raytown and Belton. She also bought personal items at Barnes & Noble in Independence and meals from various restaurants in Raytown, Independence and Lee’s Summit, court records said.

Investigators obtained video of Collins purchasing items from the Hy-Vee store on Noland Road in Independence. Collins is seen purchasing a number of items, including four gift cards that totaled $318, according to charging documents.

The video also showed Collins making the fraudulent purchases in the presence of a juvenile, according to court records.

Collins tried to conceal the fraudulent purchases by submitting cashier’s checks for $959 in payments, claiming the funds were reimbursements from the Missouri School Board Association. That later turned out not be truthful, prosecutors alleged.

On May 20, Collins turned over her district purchase card to Superintendent Allan Markley, who had requested it. She resigned as school board president the next day.

In her resignation letter, Collins wrote, “I have made mistakes, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that, and I have tried to correct them when possible. Some I cannot correct, only apologize for and ask forgiveness.”

Rick Thode, a retired CPA and partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who was elected to the board in April, said last week after Collins resigned that he didn’t like that board members were given purchasing cards. Thode said he did not have one because he had no need for it.

On Monday, after learning about the charges against Collins, the former board president, Thode said, “I think that we need to examine our internal controls to see if they are adequate to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Thode said, “this is an accounting control issue.”

Collins did not return The Star’s calls requesting a comment.

Collins was first elected to the board in 2006 and re-elected in April 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018.

Board members later appointed Alonzo Burton to fill her vacancy. Buton will serve until the April 2020 school board election. Board member Rick Moore was elected to serve as president for the 2019-2020 school year.

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Mará has written on all things education for The Star for 20 years, including issues of school safety, teen suicide, universal pre-K programs, college costs, campus protests and university branding.
Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.
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