Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Lanagan police chief, officer indicted for forgery

  • A McDonald County grand jury has indicted the Lanagan chief of police and one of his officers for felony forgery.

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  • A McDonald County grand jury has indicted the Lanagan chief of police and one of his officers for felony forgery.
    Lanagan Chief of Police Larry D. Marsh was charged with five counts of felony forgery for writing citations with a "non-existent" Missouri statute and altering a racial profiling report. Lanagan Police Officer Michael Gallhue was also charged with two counts of felony forgery for similar offenses. All are Class C felonies.
    State Auditor Tom Schweich issued an audit of the McDonald County town in November 2011. Among the key audit findings were missing funds and evidence that the city routinely violated Section 302.341.2, RSMo, popularly known as the "Macks Creek Law," by failing to relinquish excess revenues received from speeding tickets to the state for distribution to local schools. Schweich's auditors discovered the police department filed incorrect Missouri Vehicle Stops Annual Reports with the Missouri attorney general, which helped hide the excess revenues.
    Schweich's office shared the information with McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Pierce, who then convened a grand jury investigation. Last week, Pierce asked the Missouri Highway Patrol to arrest Marsh and charge him with falsifying reports.
    "This is a great example of what teamwork between state and local government can do to uphold accountability," Schweich said. "We have an outstanding staff of experienced auditors and an exceptional legal team that reviews every audit and takes action when misdeeds like this are identified."
    "I appreciate the work done by Auditor Schweich's team," Pierce said. "The action we took last week shows no one is above the law, and this office will not hesitate to vigorously pursue those who violate the public trust."
    The state audit found the city failed to turn over $36,000 in excess traffic ticket revenues to the Missouri Department of Revenue, as is required by state law. In addition, the audit report said, the police chief continued to report certain traffic stops as being on city streets, when they should have been reported as being on state highways, even after the audit staff informed him it was improper.
    Under the provisions of Section 302.341.2 of the Missouri State Statutes, municipalities which derive more than 45 percent of their revenues before August 2009, and more than 35 percent after that time, from traffic violations on a state or federal roadway to turn the excess amount over to the Missouri Department of Revenue. This money will then be distributed to schools within the county.
    The police department issued 1,163 traffic tickets in 2010 and 541 the previous year. In his report, Schweich said since the city and the municipal division do not track the amount of fines and costs collected on tickets issued on state and federal roadways, the office reviewed all 555 tickets issued by the police department between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2010.
    The review determined five tickets were issued for non-traffic violations, four were issued on city streets, the location of three of the tickets could not be determined and the remaining 543 tickets — or 98 percent — were issued on Missouri Highway 59 (Main Street) or Route EE, within the city limits.
    Page 2 of 2 - The audit said the city should have turned over approximately $33,583 to the state for 2010, and $2,698 for 2009.
    In their response, the board of aldermen said they were not made aware of this liability and will attempt to remedy the situation, but would make every effort to abide by state law. All vehicle stops would be properly reported, the board told state auditors.
    Other auditor findings included more than $13,000 in missing funds, poor accounting and control procedures, and a poor city financial condition. The auditor said Lanagan owed nearly $84,000, but had only $17,600 in available funds. Despite this, the city hired a new employee and gave raises to existing workers.
    Schweich's audits were instrumental in the arrest of another local official last year. The Schuyler County Collector resigned after a state audit showed she had embezzled more than $500,000 for her own personal use. She pled guilty to felony mail fraud and has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison.

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