Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Two Former Vernon County Ambulance District Employees Indicted for $260,000 Embezzlement

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, that the former director and the former bookkeeper of the Vernon County Ambulance District have been indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling more than $260,000 from the district.

Tina L. Werner, 51, and James D. McKenzie, 51, both formerly of Nevada, Mo., were charged in a nine-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on May 11, 2017.

McKenzie and Werner were employed with the ambulance district until October 2015, McKenzie as the director and Werner as a bookkeeper. McKenzie’s duties as director included managing the daily operations of the district, including the personnel and financial management of the district. McKenzie began his employment with the ambulance district in 1987. Werner’s duties as bookkeeper included managing payroll, conducting financial transactions and managing the accounts receivable. Werner began her employment in 2000.

The federal indictment alleges that Werner, utilizing her position as bookkeeper, began electronically transferring money from the ambulance district’s bank accounts into personal bank accounts held by herself and McKenzie in January 2013. Additionally, Werner allegedly initiated electronic bill payments from ambulance district bank accounts to pay the personal credit cards held by herself and McKenzie. Werner and McKenzie did not have authorization to conduct such payments and their actions caused the ambulance district to suffer financial loss.

Additionally, the indictment says, from January 2013 until October 2015, Werner and McKenzie issued payments from an ambulance district credit card account for the purpose of paying McKenzie’s personal utility bills and those of a McKenzie family member, resulting in the ambulance district suffering additional financial loss. Werner and McKenzie did not have authorization to conduct such payments.

Werner also allegedly falsified electronic payroll records and recorded additional overtime hours worked for herself and McKenzie. As a result, the ambulance district issued electronic payments to Werner and McKenzie for overtime hours that were not actually worked, resulting in the district falsely overpaying Werner and McKenzie, thereby suffering additional financial loss.
McKenzie and Werner allegedly embezzled a total of $260,265 from the ambulance district from January 2013 to October 2015.
According to the indictment, Werner attempted to conceal the embezzlement by entering a false deposit of $130,000 in the QuickBooks application, and by obtaining a $20,000 line of credit from OnDeck without the knowledge or authorization of the ambulance district’s board of directors. McKenzie and Werner allegedly destroyed financial and business documents belonging to the ambulance district while they were in the district’s office on Oct. 23, 2015, in an effort to conceal their embezzlement.

In addition to the conspiracy, McKenzie and Werner are charged together in three counts of wire fraud related to thefts from the district’s Christmas account (into which employees deposited money throughout the year, then withdrew during the Christmas shopping season) to pay McKenzie’s and Werner’s credit cards.
McKenzie and Werner are also charged together in two counts of wire fraud related to thefts from the district’s toy drive bank account, which was transferred to the bank account of McReed Construction, a business owned by McKenzie.

McKenzie and Werner are also charged together in one count of wire fraud related to theft from an ambulance district credit card to pay the personal utility bills of McKenzie and a family member.

McKenzie and Werner are also charged together in one count of wire fraud related to McKenzie receiving compensation to which he was not entitled due to being paid for overtime that he did not actually work. Werner is also charged with one count of wire fraud related to her receiving compensation to which she was not entitled due to being paid for overtime that she did not actually work.

Larson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Carney and Casey Clark. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.