Former Administrator Sentenced for Stealing $227,000 from Pettis County Ambulance District
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The former administrator of the Pettis County Ambulance District was sentenced in federal court today for embezzling more than $227,000 from the district.
Michael Paul Gardner, 62, of Sedalia, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to two years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gardner to pay $227,649 in restitution to the ambulance district.
Gardner, who was hired as the administrator of the Pettis County Ambulance District in December 2012, pleaded guilty to bank fraud on Dec. 14, 2017. Gardner admitted that he forged board members’ signatures on 44 checks totaling $123,721. Gardner also admitted that he received $103,928 in unapproved payroll expenses from 2015 to 2017. The total amount embezzled by Gardner from the ambulance district was $227,649.
Gardner was arrested on March 29, 2017. Two board members of the ambulance district came to the Sedalia, Mo., Police Department on March 24, 2017, to present suspicious checks and financial transactions made by Gardner. The board had been notified by Central Bank of Sedalia that there was suspicious activity being conducted on the district’s bank accounts. The board members presented several ambulance district checks to police investigators in which Gardner was the payee and upon which the signatures of two board members had been forged. Board members also presented several checks made out to another person, identified in court documents as “T.R.,” which also contained forged board members’ signatures.
Gardner admitted to investigators that he had been forging board members’ signatures on checks payable to himself or to T.R., then depositing them into either his or her personal bank accounts, for about a year.
The ambulance district employed an independent auditing firm to conduct an intensive fraud investigations to determine the amount of funds misappropriated by Gardner. The firm identified 44 forged checks totaling $123,721.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Sedalia, Mo., Police Department and the Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.