KUMC employee faces 2 years in prison for embezzling over $556K

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A former employee at KUMC has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling over $556,000 from the medical school.

Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard says Michael Tae Kim Ahlers, 50, of Lenexa, has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing over $556,000 from the University of Kansas Medical Center, his former employer, as well as from the KUMC Research Institute and from KU Endowment.

In February, Slinkard said Ahlers pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and filing a false tax return. He said the prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. Ahlers has also been ordered to pay over $680,000 in restitution.

Court documents show that from 2009 to 2015 Ahlers abused his position as administrative officer for the KUMC Occupational Therapy Education Department. While embezzling $526,000 from KUMC, he also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on personal expenditures, including the following:

  • About $87,000 on gambling;
  • About $81,000 on travel to locations such as Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York, Myrtle Beach and Caribbean cruises;
  • About $81,000 in cash withdrawals;
  • About $36,000 on golf memberships and fees; and
  • About $36,000 on sports tickets and on license or donor fees.

According to Slinkard, to conceal the fraud, Ahlers used a KUMC Credit Union bank account that he had exclusive control over. He said Ahlers created fake invoices to prevent the discovery that he was using the business account for his personal gain. He stole about $30,000 from KUMC Research Institute and KU Endowment by turning in falsified invoices for which he had already been paid. Slinkard said he then failed to include the stolen funds on his federal tax returns, which resulted in a tax loss of over $104,000 from 2009 to 2015.

“It’s disappointing anytime someone in a position of trust misuses that authority for personal financial gain. As federal prosecutors, we work tirelessly to see perpetrators of fraud brought to justice and convicted,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard. “It’s also our responsibility to advocate before the courts on behalf of victims so that they might recover as much of their losses as possible as restitution.”

Slinkard said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Unit and the U.S. Secret Service investigated the case.

“After multiple years of embezzling from the University of Kansas Medical Center and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on himself, Mr. Ahlers is now going to federal prison,” said Amanda Prestegard, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation division in the St. Louis Field Office. “Mr. Ahlers’ sentence further exhibits that IRS CI, along with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will continue to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals that participate in abusive criminal activity, and are duty-bound to protect the integrity of the U.S. tax administration.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Huschka and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon Patton prosecuted the case.

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