A former Saline County Sheriff pleaded guilty this week to stealing nearly $79,000 in public funds.
According to a news release from Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Wallace Newman George Jr., 70, of Corder, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to stealing nearly $79,000 in public funds by taking checks – issued by the state to reimburse the county for prisoner expenses – for his own personal use.
George waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to an information that charges him with one count of stealing from an organization that receives federal funds.
George was appointed as acting sheriff for Saline County in November 1979 and elected to office the following month. He held that office for 36 years, purportedly the longest-serving sheriff in the history of the state until his resignation Monday, Feb. 8. George was required to resign from office as a condition of Tuesday’s plea agreement.
George assigned sheriff’s deputies to transport prisoners extradited or voluntarily returned from outside Missouri to Saline County. He then submitted claims to the state to be reimbursed for the expenses incurred. The state issued 34 reimbursement checks for prisoner extradition/transportation between Jan. 28, 2010, and June 30, 2015. Those checks totaled approximately $97,083, of which approximately 75 percent, or $71,994, was for mileage reimbursement and the remainder for meals and other expenses.
By pleading guilty, George admitted he stole $78,911 from those state reimbursements, which primarily represents the mileage reimbursement portion of every state reimbursement check for prisoner extradition/transportation that the county received (with only one exception) from Jan. 28, 2010, to June 30, 2015.
George opened a personal checking account at Wood & Huston Bank in Marshall. At various times, George cashed the state reimbursement checks at Wood & Huston Bank. Sometimes he deposited the state reimbursement checks into his personal account, and sometimes he deposited portions of the proceeds into his personal account and kept a portion for himself.
Between Jan. 28, 2010, and June 30, 2015, George cashed, partially deposited, or deposited approximately 34 extradition reimbursement checks into his personal bank account, with an aggregate value of approximately $97,083.
George admitted Tuesday that, as a result of his scheme, he obtained $6,832 prior to 2010, $8,075 in 2010, $8,665 in 2011, $6,319 in 2012, $11,970 in 2013, $25,530 in 2014, and $11,517 during 2015.
Although George admitted to stealing funds over a period of more than five years, he specifically pleaded guilty to one count of stealing $9,592 in taxpayer funds between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
George paid $51,162 in restitution to Saline County on Friday, Feb. 5. He paid $27,749 in restitution to the state Tuesday. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of no more than one year and one day imprisonment. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.