The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 12, 2010

Audit: $108,000 taken from Missouri Veterans Commission

The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A former employee of the state auditor’s office embezzled nearly $108,000 while working as an accountant for the Missouri Veterans Commission, the state auditor alleged Monday.

Stacy Griffin-Lowery was fired by the Veterans Commission in March 2008 and pleaded guilty three months later to a misdemeanor theft charge. She repaid the state $17,665, the auditor’s office said.

But Missouri Auditor Susan Montee on Monday accused Griffin-Lowery of swiping an additional $90,192 by getting reimbursed for cash advances and purchases made on her personal credit card.

Griffin-Lowery declined to comment when contacted Monday by The Associated Press at her current job at a private company.

Montee said Griffin-Lowery worked for the auditor’s office for six years before leaving in 2002 to join the Veterans Commission staff. The state agency operates several nursing homes and cemeteries and helps people file for federal veterans’ benefits.

As an auditor, Griffin-Lowery had been in charge of auditing the Veterans Commission. Montee said she believes Griffin-Lowery used that knowledge to later commit fraud at the Veterans Commission, where her work as an accountant was not adequately reviewed by supervisors.

Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said the auditor’s office notified his staff in March that more money was missing from the Veterans Commission. But Richardson said he cannot file new charges because the 2008 plea agreement settled all allegations related to Griffin-Lowery’s theft from the Veterans Commission. The auditor’s office and veterans agency verified at the time that her restitution payment covered the losses, Richardson said.

“If it was legally possible, we would file further charges. But it’s not legally possible,” he said.

The Veterans Commission said it would seek to recoup the additional money through an insurance bond. But Montee suggested more criminal charges were appropriate.

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