Former economic development director pleads guilty to misuse of public funds

The former Marion County Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman waived her right to a formal arraignment and plead guilty to one count of misuse of public funds in the amount of $48,671 in district court on Dec. 12.

The penalty, according to information presented in the journal entry of arraignment and conviction, stated that the penalty for a guilty plea is a severity level 7 nonperson felony.

Based on the sentencing guidelines, this could mean Huffman, if she has no criminal history, could likely receive a suspended prison sentence of 11-13 months.

She could also be placed on probation for 24 months, but if Huffman fails to complete the probation, the court could enforce a prison sentence of 11-13 months.

The court could also impose restitution along with the probation.

Public to private account

Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft said in an earlier interview that he called the Central Kansas Foundation, responsible for funding the Marion County Leadership Foundation and the children’s foundation.

After determining where the funding was from, Craft said he contacted the Citizens State Bank in Goessel, which was the checking account holder for both groups.

“I spoke with Peggy Jay at Citizens State Bank in Goessel, and was told the account for both of those foundations had been closed quite a while back,” he said.

Further research resulted in checking account records of the Marion County Leadership Foundation and the Marion County Children’s Foundation on July 11.

Craft said he subpoenaed those records from Citizens State Bank of Mound­ridge, which is the parent company to the Goessel bank.

Once he received the records, Craft said, he retrieved a check written March 14, 2016, from the Leadership Marion Bank account for $38,411 and payable to Flint Hills Resource and Development.

From Goessel to Florence

That check, he stated, was then deposited into Cottonwood Valley Bank, Florence, as the Flint Hills Resource and Development account.

Once all the funds were depleted from the Citizens State Bank, the LMC account was closed April of 2016 at Citizens State Bank.

Craft said he then requested another subpoena for Cottonwood Valley Bank in Florence inquiring about the FHRC&D concerning recent transactions.

Records indicated that on March 14, 2016, a check in the amount of $38,411 was received from LMC from Citizens State Bank of Goessel. On March 29, 2016, two checks from the Central Kansas Community Foundation in the amount of $4,229 each were also deposited into the Cottonwood Valley Bank in Florence.”

Craft said the account in Florence had no further action until May 1, 2018, with all deposits made by Huffman only.

Check made to Huffman

Then on May 1, a check for the amount of about $46,871 was written by (Teresa) Huffman and made payable to (Teresa) Huffman.

“The check was then deposited into an account with the Central National Bank in Marion,” Craft said.

Another subpoena was received for the Central National Bank in Marion, he said, requesting the records of the account in which the check for $46,871 was deposited.

Public to private account

The check for $46,871, which was made to Flint Hills Resource and Development, and payable to Teresa Huffman was deposited into her personal account.

“Bank records indicate,” Craft noted, “the check was deposited through the drive-up window at the Hillsboro branch of Central National Bank with a video obtained of the transaction.”

The video, he said, clearly shows it was Huffman who was the sole occupant as the transaction was made.

Huffman talks

Huffman stated to KBI officials that some of the money was used to buy a trailer house at 21 Fisherman Lane at the Marion County Park and Lake, and other money was used to buy a camper.

The audio interview also stated that Huffman made many statements that she just needed to pay the county back, and that no other persons were involved with this or influenced her decision.

Sentencing set

In addition to Huffman pleading guilty, the court services officer will prepare a criminal history worksheet and pre-sentencing investigation report by Feb. 15.

The court scheduled sentencing for Huffman at 2 p.m. Feb. 20.

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