The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

August 20, 2012

Delay granted in Boomtown Days theft case

New trial date set for defendant

A delay was granted Monday in the case of a former Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce executive who is charged with stealing money from the Boomtown Days festival.

A new trial date of Nov. 14 was set for Kim Lester, 53, 5848 Eland Road.

Investigators allege that she withdrew more than $108,000 from January 2007 until December 2010 for “non-Boomtown Days expenses,” and put back $64,000. It is believed that about $39,000 had not been repaid when the theft was discovered. Lester reportedly told investigators that she took the money because she had a gambling addiction.

The delay was requested by Lester’s attorney, Judd McPherson, who did not say why the case could not proceed on Monday. Judge Gayle Crane in Division No. 1 of Jasper County Circuit Court granted the continuance.

Lester’s attorney had previously filed documents in court seeking to place Lester in the Restorative Justice program. The judge granted a screening to determine if Lester was eligible.

Under that program, a defendant must be willing to make financial restitution, and some of that money can be due at sentencing.

The program also can involve attending classes on the impact of crime, a requirement to perform a specified amount of community service to make reparation to the community, and participation in support services needed to start fresh, according to information supplied about the program by Chris Cline, director of communications for the Department of Corrections.

Lester’s case has been pending in the circuit court since March 8. She has been free on her own recognizance since a felony theft charge was filed Nov. 4, 2011.

She served on a committee that organized the annual Boomtown Days celebration and was the financial officer of that committee while she was employed as vice president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.



Investigation

THE CASE was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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