Like many, Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross was stunned by the indictment of a local businessman and well-known veterans supporter on charges of defrauding the government.

Like many, Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross was stunned by the indictment of a local businessman and well-known veterans supporter on charges of defrauding the government.

“I was a shocked as anyone – especially with the work he did with The Wall that Heals,” Ross said Monday. “There are no words to describe this. It’s taken a lot of people by surprise.”

Warren K. Parker, 69, is accused of winning more than $6 million in federal contracts by falsely claiming to have a service-related disability. He is accused of defrauding a federal program that sets aside contracts for businesses owned by veterans with service-related disabilities.

Parker has been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, four counts of major program fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and two counts of making false statements.

Each count carries possible prison time, the longest of which  is a 30-year maximum sentence on the fraud charge, as well as fines.

Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney in Kansas, said Parker falsely claimed an array of medals and honors from Vietnam and neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs has ever classified Parker as a service-disabled veteran, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Parker’s company, Silver Star Construction LLC, listed false claims of having earned dozens of citations and medals in Vietnam, according to the indictment, which was unsealed Thursday.

Documents show that Parker served five years in the Missouri National Guard, but he never left the state on active duty and was honorably discharged in 1968 at the rank of specialist E-5.

Parker claimed to have reached the rank of Army major, to have served three tours in Vietnam and to have been awarded three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, a Presidential Citation, 11 Air Medals with Valor, among others.

The only decoration he ever received was an expert shooting badge, according to the indictment.

Parker was hugely instrumental in bringing The Wall That Heals to the city in October 2010. During opening ceremonies, Parker, identified in the program as a “Vietnam Veteran-Army,” offered words in giving tribute to veterans. Many volunteers cited Parker as being the individual who recruited them for the project.

“This is a man who eats and breathes veteran issues, even more so than me,” said Ross, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

Ross continued.

“If these charges are true, then he’s disappointed a lot of people. I’m hoping for the best, and like they say – they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Parker’s wife, Mary K. Parker, 66, son Michael J. Parker, 37, and a business associate also have been charged.

Mary Parker was charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of major program fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Michael Parker was charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of major program fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of making false statements.

Michael Parker serves on the Blue Springs Planning Commission and is vice chairman.

Ross said that the charges filed against him will not require him to step down from the post.

“But if the charges turn out to be true, then he would have to leave the seat, certainly,” he said.

Michael Parker was not present at the last commission meeting.

Also charged was Thomas J. Whitehead, 59, of Leawood, Kan., owner of Phoenix Building Group. He was charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of major program fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Silver Star Construction, which has offices in Blue Springs  and Stilwell, Kan., also is named in the indictment.

Described by the Kansas U.S. attorney’s office as an illegal pass-through company for Phoenix Building Group, Silver Star fraudulently received four contracts in 2009, each worth $1 million to $1.3 million.

The last Blue Springs project Warren Parker developed was Eagle’s Ridge, a housing area in the Chapman Farms project in the south side of the city, according to Scott Allen, director of Community Development.

That was in about 2005.

Prior to that, Warren Parker developed mostly residential properties throughout the city, as well as some commercial property like the Mall at Fall Creek and the apartments behind it.

“He’s been a long-time developer for decades,” Allen said of Warren Parker.

The Government Accountability Office in 2009 found widespread fraud and abuse in the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program, the program the defendants are accused of defrauding.  

Neither Warren nor Michael Parker returned phone calls seeking comment.



Jeff Fox contributed to this article.