Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014
Union County Couple Pleads Guilty to Stealing Public Funds
UNION COUNTY -- A Union County couple pleaded guilty Tuesday for their roles in embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. The funds were taken from water districts, levees, fire departments, and other community boards near Wolf Lake.
Myra and Raymond McLane sat side by side in court. The hearing was more than a year after several boards found that their bank accounts had been emptied.
Myra will soon be heading to prison, and Raymond will start paying back the stolen money.
It's a case involving four years of work and around $400,000 in missing funds.
"We're pretty much bankrupt because of all of the money she took," said Wolf Lake Community Center and Park President Angie McMahan.
Myra McLane joined the Shawnee Valley Water District as a secretary and treasurer in late 2008. The job gave her access to bank accounts for several local boards.
"She was a neighbor, a friend," said McMahan. "She helped us fundraise right along."
However, a pattern of theft began to unravel in 2012. When the whole story came out, the damage was done.
Karen Ballance took over McLane's position more than a year ago. She's still trying to figure out the financial mess.
"She shuffled and shuffled and shuffled until there was nothing left to shuffle," said Ballance. "The accounts were drained, there was no reserve left."
Ballance has also discovered a long list of items that McLane paid for with public funds.
"Her gas bills, her electric bills, her cable TV bills," said Ballance.
As part of a deal, Myra has been convicted of felony official misconduct and filing false tax returns. She's been sentenced to a two-year prison term and will have to report on March 4.
Her husband, Raymond, also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for false tax returns. He will spend two years on probation.
Guns, cars, jewelry, and outdoor gear seized from the couple will soon be auctioned off.
They've also been ordered to pay $213,000 in restitution, about half the missing funds. Ballance says much of the cash spent by McLane wasn't traceable.
"It'll trickle in slowly," said Ballance. "But we'll never recover all the loss."
Ballance says the accounts involved were being audited and nothing was ever caught.
There have been changes to the financial procedures. Multiple people now get bank statements, and two board members are needed to sign off on checks.
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