July 9, 2014

Former Administrator Sentenced for Embezzling from Jackson County Court

KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former court administrator for the Jackson County Circuit Court was sentenced in federal court today for a fraud scheme in which she embezzled more than $140,000 from the circuit court.

“This highly paid public official abused her position of trust and authority to steal from the court month after month, year after year, and did not stop until she was caught,” Dickinson said. “She lavished public money on personal luxuries and secretly enriched her boyfriend. Now she is being held accountable for breaking the laws she was sworn to uphold.”

Teresa L. York, 59, of Blue Springs, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to two years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered York to pay $139,536 in restitution.

York was appointed as the court administrator for the Jackson County Circuit Court in 2003. She was placed on administrative leave on June 4, 2012, after her embezzlement was discovered, and resigned on July 2, 2012. York pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Nov. 21, 2013.

York admitted that she engaged in a scheme to defraud the court between January 2009 and June 4, 2012. York used court-paid credit cards for her own personal use and purchased gift cards paid for by the court for her own personal use. York also entered into a fraudulent contract for which no services were ever provided and which primarily benefited a person with whom she had a romantic relationship.

As a result of York’s fraudulent actions, the total loss to the court was $142,278. After being confronted with her embezzlement scheme and placed on leave, York reimbursed the court $2,742, resulting in a total loss of $139,536.

Credit Card Scheme

The Jackson County Circuit Court used credit cards to pay for court business, such as judicial travel and Missouri Bar expenses. These credit cards were collectively referred to as purchasing cards, or “P-cards.” As court administrator, York was an authorized user of the P-cards.

York admitted that, from 2009 to 2012, she used the court’s P-card to purchase:

  • $2,252 for gas for her personal driving, even though the court used mileage reimbursement forms to reimburse business driving;
  • $9,532 for personal items and gift cards from Amazon;
  • $6,446 for personal items such as clothing and make-up;
  • $8,350 for personal meals;
  • $487 for U.S. postal stamps for her personal use (the court uses metered postage for its mail, rather than stamps);
  • $46,535 for Apple computer products (the court did not use a system compatible with Apple computers);
  • $35,356 for gift cards. (York kept most of the gift cards, in the amount of $29,371, for her personal use and distributed $5,985 of these gift cards to court staff, on a merit system determined by her, as a type of bonus. The amounts of the cards were more than the Internal Revenue Service de minimis requirements for income reporting, however, the cards were not ever tracked or reported as income.)

York also sold some computers owned by the court and kept the proceeds of the sales for her personal use.

The loss to the court from York’s credit card scheme was $79,438.

Contract Scheme

York also engaged in a fraudulent contract scheme. On Sept. 30, 2010, York entered into a contract with CBDM Services, LLC, on behalf of the court, purportedly for workflow analysis (a business process review, a customer service evaluation and an organizational redesign). The amount to be paid was originally $68,000, although it was later increased to $69,500.

CBDM was not organized as a company at the time the contract was signed. CBDM and its owner, identified in court documents as “N.D.,” were actually a front used to conceal the true contracting party, identified in court documents as “B.V.” York did not disclose to the court that B.V. would be receiving more than 90 percent of the payments made to CBDM or that she had a romantic relationship with B.V.

At York’s direction, the court paid CBDM a total of $64,500, although no usable work product or report was produced. Of the $64,500 paid by the court, the owner and only principal of CBDM (identified in court documents as “N.D.”) kept approximately $2,000 plus banking fees and sent the remainder, approximately $62,000, to B.V.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by the FBI.