The former County Executive for Jackson County, Missouri and his former chief of staff pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud political campaign funds, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Michael Sanders, 50, of Independence, Missouri, and Calvin Williford, 60, of St. Joseph, Missouri, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark of the Western District of Missouri.
According to admissions made in connection with their pleas, Sanders was the elected County Executive for Jackson County from January 2007 until December 2015. Prior to serving as County Executive, Sanders was the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County. Williford was a senior staff member for Sanders, and then later chief of staff, in the Office of the County Executive from 2007 to December 2015. Prior to then, Williford served as Sanders’s Director of Public Affairs at the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Sanders and Williford defrauded political committees with which Sanders was affiliated by converting campaign contributions for their personal use. Sanders and Williford misappropriated the money by directing the political committees to issue checks to certain individuals who performed little or no campaign-related work. Instead, the individuals cashed the checks and then returned a portion of the money to Sanders or Williford, who used the cash at times to pay for personal expenses.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Kansas City Division. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.