Kansas City woman pleads guilty to $1.1 million embezzlement scheme

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 2:20 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas City woman could face jail time after pleading guilty to embezzling over $1.1 million from the Johnson Co. District Court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office - District of Kansas says on Tuesday, April 19, Dawna Kellogg, 61, of Williamsburg, pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return. The crimes related to a scheme to embezzle money from the Johnson Co. District Court in Olathe.

Court documents indicate that while Kellogg was employed in the accounting department at the District Court, she stole at least $776,691.50 in cash between January 2010 and June 2017. At the time, her legal name was Dawna Brandt.

As the Accounting Supervisor, the Office said Kellogg managed the department, collected funds from each separate county system, recorded funds collected, processed daily reports and deposited the collected funds into the Court’s bank account. The Court used the case management system Justice Information Management System which had an accounting function to maintain financial transactions.

Court records note Kellogg stole cash the Court received, like bail bond payments, and either spent or deposited the embezzled funds into her personal accounts. She concealed the stolen cash two ways - through the manipulation of an unclaimed property account and through the creation of an open payable in the JIMS system and then issuing a check that was both drawn on and deposited into the Court’s bank account. It said this created a corresponding debit and credit thus no increase or decrease in the amount under deposit.

The Office said Kellogg pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. As part of her plea agreement, she agreed to no contest the total loss which resulted from the scheme to defraud was $1,135,988.13 which consists of $359,296.63 from 2007 through 2009 and $776,691.50 from 2010 through 2017.

“The defendant knowingly defrauded the public for personal financial gain over a prolonged period of time. When someone in a position of public trust redirects incoming cash payments for city bonds, fines and court costs to their personal bank account it threatens the very core of our government institutions. Today’s agreement underscores the importance of holding those whose criminal actions degrade the public’s trust accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub, FBI Kansas City.

A federal district court judge will decide Kellogg’s sentence after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing has been set for 9 a.m. on Aug. 16, before U.S. District Judge Holly L. Teeter.

“Ms. Kellogg’s attempt to conceal her embezzlement by making fraudulent accounting entries and filing false tax returns was no match for IRS Criminal Investigation,” said Tyler Hatcher, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS-CI will aggressively pursue those who threaten to defraud the very court system which provides justice to all.”

The Office said the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case while Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan J. Huschka and D. Christopher Oakley prosecuted.

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