Former Wyandotte County assistant DA pleads guilty to stealing $75,000 worth of public property

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A former assistant district attorney for Wyandotte County and a former Linn County attorney pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges of stealing 350 to 500 items including electronics and equipment that belonged to Linn County.

The estimated value of the items is $75,000.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 68-year-old John Sutherland, of Mound City, Kansas, is charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of lying to federal investigators.

The crimes are alleged to have taken place from sometime prior to January 2009 and continuing until Sutherland left his office in Linn County in Jan. 2017.

In his plea, Sutherland admitted that on Feb. 6, 2019, FBI agents found 13 items stolen from Linn County when they searched Sutherland’s office at the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office. One of the items was a stolen Apple laptop computer.

When FBI agents interviewed him, Sutherland denied any wrongdoing and made other false statements. According court documents, he claimed that an Apple TV 64 GB video-streaming device the county purchased for about $220 had been destroyed. FBI agents found the device intact at Sutherland’s home. They also found that Sutherland had given some of the stolen items to his adult children.

In his plea agreement, Sutherland agreed to pay full restitution and to surrender his license to practice law. The mail fraud count carries a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The false statement count carries a penalty of up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.

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