Region briefs 06/17/03

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Former office bookkeeper pleads guilty to stealing

A former bookkeeper at the Cape Girardeau County Juvenile Office averted a jury trial Monday by pleading guilty to two counts of felony stealing.

Robin Whitson, 38, was charged Sept. 11 with 10 counts of stealing for embezzling more than $97,000 from local schools.

Her case was moved to Columbia, Mo., on a change of venue to Boone County. A jury trial had been scheduled for Wednesday.

As part of her plea, Whitson admitted she deposited checks meant for the Cape Girardeau and Jackson public schools into her own bank account at the Cape Regional Credit Union using an ATM. The embezzlement occurred over 12 months, dating back to September 2001, prosecutors said.

Whitson faces up to 14 years in prison on the charges, but as part of the plea agreement the state agreed not to request that she serve more than 10 years in prison, said Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle.

Under the open plea, the judge is free to impose any sentence from probation to 14 years, said Whitson's attorney, Steve Wilson.

Judge Ellen Roper ordered a presentencing investigation and set sentencing for July 25.

St. Jude Dream Home campaign coming to close

Organizers of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway are reminding potential donors that today is the last day to purchase a chance to win a house valued at approximately $275,000.

The home is located in Touchdown Estates between Cape Girardeau and Jackson. The money from $100 chances will go to support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Those who don't win the house can win one of several other prizes, including a diamond bracelet, a club membership at Dalhousie and certificates for free motel stays.

For information on the house or to buy a ticket, call (800) 382-8604.

Cape municipal band to perform Wednesday

New Beginnings Quartet will be the special guests Wednesday night at the concert by the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band.

The free concert will be presented at 8 p.m. at the Capaha Park Band Shell. Audience members are invited to bring lawn chairs.

The program will be the same as for last week's concert, which was rained out. It will include "World's Fair March," "Cape Fear Chronicles," "Them Basses," "The Bluebells of Scotland," "My Kind of Towns," "The Fairest of the Fair March," "Atlantic Avenue" and "Highlights from 'Chicago.'"

The band is conducted by Ronald Nall.

Failure to file disclosure leads to 50 resignations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dozens of Kansas City board and commission members inadvertently resigned June 1 after failing to file annual financial disclosure statements.

A city ordinance states that failure to file by June 1 as required by law means many commission and board members have officially resigned.

"That's what it (the ordinance) says," said city attorney Galen Beaufort, after reviewing the city ordinance. "I don't know of any kind of excuses. And I don't know where we go from here."

Beaufort said city attorneys will have to investigate the potential effect of the resignations on any board or commission rulings rendered since June 1 to determine if they are null and void.

The Kansas City Star discovered last week that nearly 90 board and commission members -- or roughly a third of those required to file financial disclosures -- had failed to comply.

"We've got a problem and we're working on it," said City Clerk Linda Becker, who assumed the chief clerk's position in April. "We will fix it."

Former City Councilman Evert Asjes, who left office in April, championed the financial disclosure requirements in 1996 and 1997 as a way to restore trust in City Hall. At the time, several council members were under investigation or indictment for corruption.

-- From staff, wire reports

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