JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Maybe crime does pay.
A former Missouri Veterans Commission accountant who pleaded guilty in 2008 to stealing more than $17,000 from the state actually pilfered nearly $108,000, an audit has alleged, and probably will get to keep the difference.
Stacy Griffin-Lowery of Holts Summit pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in June 2008 for charging $17,665 in personal expenses on state-issued credit cards. The crime was discovered early that year as the commission prepared for a state audit of purchasing and fuel cards.
But that audit missed a larger scheme going on simultaneously in which Griffin-Lowery allegedly ran up charges totaling $90,191 on personal credit cards and reimbursed herself with state funds.
In both cases, the audit said, Griffin-Lowery took advantage of lax oversight from supervisors and a computer system that allowed her to approve her own expenses.
The auditor’s office discovered the additional theft in a second audit begun in 2009, after Griffin-Lowery pleaded guilty in a deal that required her to pay back $16,198 but allowed her to stay out of jail and avoid a felony charge.
She also was given her immunity from further prosecution.
In announcing the audit Monday, Missouri Auditor Susan Montee said the Cole County prosecutor’s office, which has jurisdiction over cases in Jefferson City, has indicated it will not file additional charges and considers the case closed.
Reached for comment, County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said charging Griffin-Lowery in the newly discovered theft would subject her to double jeopardy, which the law does not allow.
Before settling the case in 2008, Richardson said, his office checked with the auditor’s office to verify that the restitution to be paid was the appropriate amount. The auditor’s office signed off on the $16,198.
“It’s not that our office would ever be unwilling to prosecute someone for stealing $90,000, because we prosecuted for stealing almost $17,000,” Richardson said. “But when we prosecute that theft and are given totals for restitution that we’re told will complete the case, we can’t prosecute it again later on the same pattern.”
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