Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2003

Former clerk sentenced, funds returned to city

May 1, 2003

Claiming she suffers from a psychiatric disorder, a former Basehor employee apologized for defrauding the city during her sentencing hearing Friday, April 25.

Earlier this month, Jennifer Srubas-Willis, a former city clerk in charge of handling utility bills and municipal court costs, pleaded no contest to misuse of public funds.

Appearing with her attorney, Catalina Thompson of Leavenworth, Srubas-Willis was given an 18-month suspended sentence.

If she fails to comply with the terms of her probation, she will serve seven months in prison, prosecutors said.

Srubas-Willis, a Basehor native, appeared contrite Friday morning and said she was sorry for stealing from city coffers. She also claimed she is bipolar, taking medication and receiving counseling.

Originally, prosecutors charged Srubas-Willis with misuse of public funds and felony theft, both felonies. Later prosecutors dropped the felony theft charge in exchange for a plea agreement.

Under the plea agreement, Srubas-Willis would pay the city $15,000 in restitution.

A cashier's check for that amount was given to the court Friday. The funds will cycle through Leavenworth County District Court and then be dispensed to the city, prosecutors said.

An exact amount of funds taken from the city is undetermined. At one point, prosecutors said the figure could be as high as $30,000.

However, city officials said that figure could never be proven in court.

Srubas-Willis was hired as an assistant city clerk in June 2001. Her employment was terminated in July 2002.

An investigation into missing funds began in September. The case caused city officials to change their day-to-day accounting procedures. A series of checks and balances was enacted to prevent a similar situation, city officials said.

Also, city officials have taken a more stern approach in hiring procedures, they said.

Before working for the city, Srubas-Willis worked in the accounting departments of several different companies including a non-profit organization, an insurance firm and a doctor's office.

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