Former Thayer city clerk pleads guilty to theft

A former city clerk has pleaded guilty to stealing $120,000 from a Neosho County town, federal prosecutors announced today.

Thayer resident Laura Whittley, 49, admitted to pocketing money paid for utility bills, municipal court payments and wildlife licenses and permits during her employment as Thayer city clerk, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office. She also told prosecutors she issued herself unauthorized city checks, paid for personal expenses using a city credit card and charged the city for storm clean up in May 2009, which officials paid using some Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

Whittley cashed a $100,000 certificate of deposit owned by the city at Emprise Bank in Chanute, then deposited money into the city’s bank account to cover up the embezzlement. She also put $50,000 into a new CD at the bank, the release said.

Whittley faces a fine of up to $1 million and up to 30 years in federal prison for bank fraud. She also faces one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 13.