By Jeff Fox
A former court administrator faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to embezzling almost $140,000 from the Jackson County Circuit Court.
Teresa L. York, 58, of Blue Springs, pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Thursday. She is to be sentenced at a later date. The charges were brought by the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
York was the court administrator from 2003 to mid-2012. From 2009 through June 2012, authorities say, she used court credit cards for personal use – gas, clothes, computers, among other expenses – and in 2010 entered into a fraudulent contract under which no work was done and that benefited a person with whom she had personal ties.
She was placed on administrative leave on June 4, 2012, when the embezzlement was discovered, and she resigned a month later.
As court administrator, she oversaw the credit cards used for such expenses as travel. She admitted to using those cards for her personal benefit, including $2,252 for gas; $6,446 for items such as clothing and makeup; $8,350 for meals; $46,535 for Apple computer products; and $9,532 for personal items and gift cards from Amazon.com. She also bought $35,356 in gift cards, keeping most of – $29,371 – for herself but distributing the rest to staff as bonuses. She also sold court computers and kept the proceeds.
The government contends the total loss to the court was $139,536, and the intended loss was $142,278. Under the plea agreement, York must pay the government $77,778 – her proceeds from the fraud. From 2009 to mid-2012, she reimbursed the court $1,660 for personal expenditures. In June 2012, after being confronted with the scheme and placed on leave, she reimbursed another $2,742.
York did not admit to the office of the U.S. attorney regarding the fraudulent contract, but the government could present evidence of that during her sentencing hearing. Authorities say in 2010 she entered into a contract, for the court, with CBDM Services LLC for workflow analysis. That company – not organized as a company at the time – was a front for a third party, identified only as “B.V.,” who got more than 90 percent of the payments to CBDM and who had a personal relationship with York. The court paid $64,500 but no usable “work product” was ever produced, the U.S. attorney’s office says.