The top law enforcement official in Christian County has resigned his post and pleaded guilty to stealing county dollars and money laundering.
53-year-old Joey Kyle, who had served as sheriff since 2009, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday. As part of a plea agreement, he’ll serve one year and one day in prison without parole. In addition, Kyle must pay $50,290 in restitution to Christian County and forfeit a money judgment of $71,640 to the government, which officials say represents the proceeds he received from his criminal conduct.
Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Kyle took money intended for firearms and other supplies needed by his deputies.
“But his greed wasn’t limited to public dollars or to the taxpayers whose trust he betrayed,” Dickinson stated in a news release. “He also abused his position to promote a political supporter’s investment fraud scheme, and even used the criminal profits from the scheme to help bankroll his reelection.”
Dickinson continued, “The shameful actions of this defendant shouldn’t cast a shadow on the integrity and dedication of the vast majority of honest law enforcement officers. No one is above the law. This disgraced law enforcement officer will be held accountable for his actions.”
Officials with the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the case.
Christian County commissioners say they’ll soon schedule a special election to replace Kyle. In the interim, county coroner Brad Cole has been named to serve as sheriff.
As part of his guilty plea, Kyle admitted to the embezzlement charges. The more than $50,000 in stolen funds came from 22 fraudulent invoices and purchase orders for county goods and services that were never provided. The thefts occurred between Jan. 1, 2011, and Oct. 14, 2014, according to the attorney’s office statement.
Also on Wednesday, Kyle admitted to receiving $21,350 from another person for his role in promoting an investment fraud scheme. The person, identified in court documents as “Subject #2,” is said to have solicited Kyle to assist him as a promoter of the scheme, using his authority and prestige as sheriff as leverage.
The statement goes on to say that Kyle also allegedly shared in the scheme’s profits, and attempted to mask the money as receipts from Kyle’s law enforcement training company, Five Rivers Management, LLC.