Patrol: Chaffee court fund theft investigation ongoing

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Former Chaffee city court clerk is accused of stealing $1,000.

BENTON, Mo. -- Former Chaffee city court clerk Robin Dannenmueller turned herself in to the Scott County Sheriff's Department Tuesday, one day after charges were filed against her for felony stealing.

Dannenmueller was released on $4,000 bond.

The 35-year-old daughter of city council member Bob Sullivan is accused of stealing $1,000 in city court funds.

The money was from a bond payment by a man arrested in Chaffee on a Cape Girardeau warrant in November. The money was discovered missing on Jan. 12, said Chaffee police Chief Jeff Womack, when the Cape Girardeau court couldn't find the money in its account.

Womack subsequently reviewed the Chaffee court's financial records and interviewed Dannenmueller on Jan. 16. She put the money into the court account on Jan. 17, the same day Womack requested an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Dannenmueller resigned on Jan. 20.

The Chaffee City Council was informed of the resignation and investigation on Jan. 23. Scott County prosecutor Paul Boyd issued a news release the following day saying the investigation was terminated due to the city's decision to handle the matter internally.

Womack said he is unaware of any city official requesting a close to the investigation.

The Southeast Missourian submitted written questions about the chronology of events to Boyd Tuesday. They went unanswered.

Sgt. Scott Stoelting, an investigator with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the investigation was never dropped. Stoelting sent a probable-cause affidavit to the prosecutor's office on Monday.

Investigation delayed

Stoelting said the investigation was delayed because highway patrol investigators were busy with more pressing matters.

The patrol will only conduct investigations if a prosecutor guarantees to pursue the case if enough evidence of wrongdoing exists, he said.

Womack said Chaffee didn't pursue the investigation because of a conflict of interest.

"If anyone says, 'We're not going to prosecute,' that's a patrol policy that we're not involved in the investigation," said Stoelting. "We won't waste our time."

Stoelting said the alleged victim in any investigation, in this case the city of Chaffee, must cooperate in the investigation in order for a prosecution to occur.

335-6611, extension 182

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