News and Press Releases

Republic woman pleads guilty to stealing $717,000
from st. john's college of nursing

October 11, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Republic, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to embezzling more than $717,000 from St. John’s Mercy Health Care Systems and the College of Nursing.

Amy Elaine Phillips, 39, of Republic, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to a federal information that charges her with theft of program funds and tax evasion.

Phillips was employed as an administrative assistant for the College of Nursing, a division of St. John’s Mercy Health Care Systems, which was run jointly with Southwest Baptist University, from Jan. 15, 2001, to Feb. 26, 2009. In that position, she was responsible for the upkeep of the facilities, College of Nursing staff payroll, budgetary issues and general administrative duties for the dean and program director of the College of Nursing.

Phillips admitted that she used two methods of embezzlement to steal substantial sums of money from St. John’s and the College of Nursing.

Between 2004 and 2007, Phillips intercepted checks intended for St. John’s and the College of Nursing, and deposited them into her personal bank account. She stole nearly $61,000 under this scheme, until her bank informed her, in 2007, that she would have to be listed as the payee for any checks deposited into her account.

From 2007 to 2009, Phillips utilized the Student Nurses Association bank account at the St. John’s Employees’ Credit Union, which was a private savings account owned and funded by the students of the College of Nursing. Phillips deposited checks made payable to St. John’s and the College of Nursing into the Student Nurses Association bank account, and on the same day withdrew the funds, which she used for her personal benefit. Phillips stole more than $657,000 under this scheme, for a total theft of $717,999.

Phillips also pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Phillips admitted that she did not claim the embezzled funds as taxable income on her federal tax returns from 2004 through 2008. Phillips pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion regarding her federal income tax for 2008. Although Phillips only claimed $26,759 in taxable income, according to the plea agreement, she actually had approximately $210,064 in income as a result of her embezzlement. Over the course of five years, the plea agreement states, Phillips should have paid an additional $115,117 in income taxes on the unreported theft income.

By pleading guilty today, Phillips also agreed to pay $717,999 in restitution to St. John’s and $115,117 plus interest to the IRS. St. John’s reimbursed Southwest Baptist University for all funds that Phillips embezzled from university activities and functions.

Under federal statutes, Phillips is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

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