Monday, May 21, 2012
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says a former city clerk of the City of Thayer in Neosho County has pleaded guilty to embezzling $120,000. Laura Whittley, 49, of Thayer, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering.
Whittley admitted she stole the money from the city by pocketing cash citizens used to pay for their utility bills, municipal court payments, parks and wildlife licenses and permits. She wrote checks to herself and used a city credit card for personal purchases. She also admitted to submitting false bills for storm cleanup that were paid by the city and with funds received through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Officials say Whittley concealed the thefts by presenting a fraudulent letter to Emprise Bank in Chanute, directing the bank to cash a $100,000 certificate of deposit belonging to the city. She had the bank put $50,000 into a new CD, and she deposited some of the remaining proceeds into the city’s account to conceal the thefts.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 13. Whittley faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on the bank fraud count, and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the money laundering count.