Ambulance district employees accused of embezzling $260K

The district's director and bookkeeper were charged with one count of conspiracy for mail fraud and eight counts of wire fraud

The Joplin Globe

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A federal grand jury has accused two former Nevada residents of embezzling more than $260,000 from the Vernon County Ambulance District, some of which was stolen from Christmas and toy drive funds, according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. attorney's office of the Western District of Missouri.

James McKenzie, 51, was the ambulance district's director, beginning his job there in 1987. The district's bookkeeper, Tina Werner, 51, started her job in 2000. Both worked for the district until October 2015.

Both were charged with one count of conspiracy for mail fraud and eight counts of wire fraud. The grand jury handed up the indictments May 11.

Starting in January 2013, Werner paid her and McKenzie's credit card bills with ambulance district money, which she also transferred electronically into their personal accounts, the statement said the indictment alleged.

The ambulance district suffered financial losses because of the payments, the statement said. The indictment also alleged that Werner falsely reported additional overtime hours for her and McKenzie.

The news release said that both allegedly took money from the district's Christmas account to pay off their credit cards. Throughout the year, employees would deposit money into the account and use it during the Christmas season.

They supposedly deposited the money from the district's toy drive bank account to into the bank account of McReed Construction, which is owned by McKenzie. Using the ambulance district's credit card, they allegedly paid the personal utility bills of McKenzie and a family member, the statement said.

In order to hide the embezzlement, Werner allegedly entered a false deposit of $130,0000 in QuickBooks and got a $20,000 line of credit from OnDeck Capital without informing or gaining consent of the district's board of directors.

On Oct. 23, 2015, Werner and McKenzie allegedly destroyed the district's financial and business documents to cover their tracks.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the news release said.

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