Ex-clerk charged with theft in Chaffee

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Money that was discovered missing was returned Jan. 17.

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Charges of felony stealing have been filed against former Chaffee municipal court clerk Robin Dannenmueller, two weeks after the Scott County prosecuting attorney announced an investigation into missing court funds had been dropped.

On Monday, Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd filed class C felony stealing charges against Dannenmueller. The charges allege that Dannenmueller took $1,000 from the municipal court coffers last year. Dannenmueller, the daughter of Chaffee City Councilman Bob Sullivan, replaced the money on Jan. 17 and resigned her post soon after.

City council members were informed of the resignation at a Jan. 23 council meeting. The next day Boyd issued a statement saying the investigation had been terminated based on an "internal decision to accept the restitution and resignation of the city court clerk."

The investigation was conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at the request of Chaffee police chief Jeff Womack. On Monday, the patrol sent a probable-cause statement to Boyd's office citing evidence that a crime was committed. Dannenmueller was not yet in custody Monday night.

The investigation was discussed in closed session at Monday night's city council meeting. Three council members who had signed a letter on Jan. 27 telling residents they had no vote on stopping the investigation -- Debbie Eichhorn, Wayne Hampton and Mike Jobe -- voted to keep the meeting open but were defeated 4-3.

Sullivan and Mayor Bill Cannon declined comment Monday.

"I really think it's going to satisfy people," Jobe said of the investigation's conclusion and filing of charges. Jobe said he's glad to see the matter go to court because so many residents have asked questions about it.

Monday night, Womack said he never actually told the council whether the investigation was dropped or ongoing. "I told them I wouldn't usurp the highway patrol investigation," he said. Womack pointed out that the city has no power to make the patrol stop an investigation.

Boyd's Jan. 25 statement said the city had made an internal decision to accept Dannenmueller's resignation -- Sullivan abstained -- instead of continuing support of the investigation. The patrol was made aware of that determination and the investigation was terminated, the statement said.

Attempts to reach Boyd Monday were unsuccessful.

Hampton is glad to see the matter get its day in court.

"It was brought to our attention, and we looked into it," said Hampton. He said his aggressive pursuit of the issue doesn't stem from personal feelings against Sullivan or Dannenmueller but from a desire to see justice served.

Womack, however, said the situation would have been best resolved had the council members not made the investigation such a high-profile issue until after a final report was issued.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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