WELLINGTON, Mo. -- Your tax dollars may have been diverted into the pockets of an ambitious embezzler. The total sum: $1.5 million stolen by a trusted public official. For 15 years Leland Kolkmeyer had the trust of the taxpayers in Wellington and Napoleon Mo. He was the treasurer of both the fire protection and road districts in the towns just east of Kansas City.
On Wednesday in federal court, he admitted that over the past 15 years he wrote personal checks to himself from taxpayer funds. It was a brazen crime
“We figured it up. It’s about $800 from every man woman and child,” said Wellington-Napoleon Fire Chief Wesley Young.
Starting in 1998, Kolkmeyer wrote check after check, some worth $800 others worth $1,600. Some of the money was transferred to a Citi or Capital One credit card. What stayed the same, according to court documents, was the recipient, Kolkmeyer. He also racked up thousands of dollars worth of charges on a Sam’s Club card and a Barclay’s credit card.
All of the funds came from the same two pools, the Wellington-Napoleon Fire Protection and Special Road Districts.
“He was pretty arrogant,” said Chief Young.
Chief Young said Kolkmeyer took directly from the taxpayers. According to court documents, the total amount embezzled from the fire department alone was more than $600,000 over 15 years.
“He took the trust away from the community,” Road Commissioner Tom Legate.
He also said Kolkmeyer stole about 50% of the operating budget each year and in turn put the safety of each and every volunteer firefighter on the force, on the line.
“He put us in danger, over time we went out the door and didn't have the maintenance on the trucks that we should have had,” Chief Young said.
Legate stated the same can be said for the road department
“It encompassed the tax payers safety, going down the roads. The ambulance, the fire department. I mean it was just basically all- in-one where it kept us from doing the proper job that needed to be done,” Legate said.
From the Special Road District, Kolkmeyer embezzled $900,000.
“I really ask myself how a person can live with themselves doing something like this,” Legate said.
Now both departments are more watchful to ensure that it can never happen again. Kolkmeyer pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday and he could face up to 40 years in prison. He has also been ordered to pay back the stolen monies that had made him a millionaire.