A Blue Springs Planning Commission member who has been granted a leave of absence since June will remain absent.

A Blue Springs Planning Commission member who has been granted a leave of absence since June will remain absent.

Michael Parker, who – along with his father, Warren, and his mother, Mary – has been charged with defrauding the government, was granted the leave of absence from his service on the commission by Mayor Carson Ross in June.

Contacted Monday, Ross said he has no plans to fill the seat or make any other decisions regarding the seat.

“I have 10 other people on that commission,” Ross said, adding that leaving one seat empty for an indefinite amount of time will not adverserly affect the commission’s work.

However, Ross said he will request a meeting with Parker after the first of the year to get a status report.

“I certainly don’t want it to drag on forever,” Ross said, adding: “He’s a good commissioner, and I don’t believe in kicking a man when he’s down.”

Ross had met with Parker in June and then received an email shortly after asking for a leave of absence.

Ross granted it and informed Susan Culpepper, chairman of the commission, of his decision.  

The leave of absence allows Parker to leave the position to deal with personal matters until further notice.

The background

Warren Parker, 69, and Mary Parker, 66, both of Blue Springs, pleaded not guilty in Kansas federal court in June to charges of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

Warren Parker, owner of Silver Star Construction, 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.

Also pleading not guilty was Thomas J. Whitehead, 59, of Leawood, Kan. He is 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.

Whitehead claimed he worked for Silver Star Construction – which authorities described as a pass-through, or front, company for Phoenix Building Group.

Michael Parker’s next scheduled appearance is a motion hearing on March 12, 2012. He is charged with fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

The U.S. attorney in Kansas charged Warren Parker 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, including fines.

Warren Parker listed false claims of having earned dozens of citations and medals in Vietnam, according to a federal indictment. Among the citations and medals Parker claimed to have been awarded were three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, a Presidential Citation and 11 Air Medals.

Warren Parker also claimed to have been awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Vietnam Service Medal with 79 Battle Stars and more than 32 citations for valor. He also claimed that he reached the rank of Army major, completing three tours in Vietnam.

However, the indictment indicates Warren Parker only served five years in the Missouri National Guard. He never left the state, documents show, and was honorably discharged in 1968 with a rank of Specialist E-5.

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

Parker’s company obtained more than 10 contracts from Veterans Affairs and from the Department of Defense from 2008 to 2010, according to the indictment.

The Leavenworth contracts were awarded on Nov. 16, 2009, in the amount of $1.3 million; Nov. 23, 2009, in the amount of $1.2 million; and on Dec. 23, 2009, for $1.2 million.

While the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas released no information about specific projects, news reports indicate that at least one may have been a headstone and realignment project at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.