Missouri attorney general files suit in Veteran's Commission theft

JEFFERSON CITY | Missouri's attorney general's office filed a lawsuit Monday against a former Missouri Veterans Commission accountant to recoup about $90,000 the state says she embezzled.

Former Veterans Commission accountant Stacy Griffin-Lowery pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in 2008 and repaid $17,665 to the Veterans Commission. But Missouri Auditor Susan Montee released an audit earlier this month that said the total amount stolen through reimbursements for cash advances and purchases made on Griffin-Lowery's personal credit card was $90,192.

The state began exploring a lawsuit after Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said he couldn't file new charges against Griffin-Lowery under the terms of her 2008 plea deal.

"This employee was entrusted to oversee funds appropriated for the well-being and welfare of Missouri veterans. That she would be so disloyal to her agency and to the brave and patriotic men and women it serves is simply astonishing," Attorney General Chris Koster said in a news release announcing the lawsuit had been filed in Cole County Circuit Court.

When The Associated Press attempted to contact Griffin-Lowery, it was told she had left her job at a private company. She had previously declined to comment on the audit.

The attorney who represented Griffin-Lowery in her 2008 case did not immediately return phone calls Monday.

Griffin-Lowery's husband, Daniel L. Lowery, is also included in the suit. Attorney general's office spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said that's because the couple used the money to pay off personal credit card debt.

The suit asks the court to order Griffin-Lowery and her husband to repay the money along with attorney fees, court costs, post-judgment interest and any other reasonable damages.

Griffin-Lowery worked for the auditor's office for six years before leaving in 2002 to join the Veterans Commission, which operates several nursing homes and cemeteries and helps people file for federal veterans' benefits.