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Overland Park police charity board gave themselves $27,000 and kept 'erratic records,' audit finds

Sam Zeff
/
KCUR 89.3

The Overland Park FOP criticized the Johnson County District Attorney for deciding not to charge four officers for misusing police charity donations. An audit found the officers made unauthorized payments of foundation funds to themselves and may have attempted to conceal their behavior.

The former board of the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation violated the bylaws of the charity, disbursed thousands of dollars to themselves, submitted incorrect tax returns and kept “erratic” records.

That’s according to results of an 82-page audit and separate audit summary released Tuesday by the Overland Park Fraternal Order of Police.

The Overland Park FOP, a social organization not affiliated with the Overland Park Police Department, called for the audit in January 2022 to dig into the organization’s concerns about the integrity of the foundation under its former board members.

The foundation, before the FOP suspended its operations more than a year ago, served as a fundraising component for the FOP.

The audit, which was completed by the firm Financial Forensics, Inc., covers the time the foundation was active between 2016 and into 2022. The organization turned over the results of the audit in May 2022 to the Johnson County District Attorney’s office.

Last week, District Attorney Steve Howe declined to charge the four Overland Park police officers who were previously responsible for the foundation, a decision the FOP denounced on Tuesday.

Tim Tinnin, Brandon Faber, Bradley Heater and Rachel Scattergood are the four officers who were the subject of the investigation. Their conduct as foundation board members is dissected at length in the FOP’s audit.

Officer Mike Mosher, an Overland Park police officer who was killed in the line of duty in May 2020, was also a founding board member of the charityand listed as the founding director and president.

What did the audit find?

The audit summary says that there is evidence that the four officers committed criminal theft because “the prior board members acted without authorization in making payments from Foundation funds to themselves.”

Further, the audit says the foundation’s financial records are “not materially correct” and notes that “the lack of accountability and controls was striking.”

Also, cash donations were not recorded in the internal accounting system, which the audit says made such contributions “vulnerable” to abuse.

The foundation also submitted erroneous tax documents to the IRS for 2016 through 2019 and did not file a tax return in 2020.

There were also no meeting records and treasurer reports.

“This lack of transparency from prior board members is at best a critical failure in record-keeping, and at worse [sic] an indicator of a desire to conceal their activity,” the audit concludes.

Police foundation board members gave $27,000 to themselves

The audit cites nearly 20 disbursements made to board members, totaling about $27,000.

That figure includes multiple scholarships that were paid out directly to the board members and their family members. In situations where the foundation disbursed scholarship funds to individuals who were not board members, the money was paid to the academic institution on behalf of the recipient.

It also includes a $500 giftcard to the Heater family for the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2018.

Scattergood received more than $1,000 to pay for a veterinary bill in 2019.

Additionally, Faber and Scattergood received the Mike Mosher Scholarship award in 2021, totaling $3,000.

How much money went to fallen officers’ families?

The foundation’s purposes was to “to assist law enforcement officers and their families in financial distress following catastrophic injury or death,” according to federal tax documents filed on behalf of the charity that same year.

The Post cannot independently verify how much in total the foundation sent to families of fallen officers because the audit’s itemized list labeled “Officer Assistance” (pages 38-40 of the audit below) includes more than two dozen redacted line items.

From the itemized list of disclosed recipients who received officer assistance, the Post gleaned the following:

  • Bank statements identify roughly $219,000 that went to Mosher’s family, with most of that going to the Moshers after Mike Mosher was killed during a traffic stop in May 2020.
  • Prior to that, two line items for Officer Mosher in September 2019 include expenses of $390 to the Mill Creek Rifle Club and about $780 to Armed Forces Vacations.
  • An additional $20,000 went to Officer Freddie Castro’s family after he died from COVID-19 in 2021.
  • The foundation paid about $7,400 to Johnson County Funeral Chapel for Officer Jordan Johnson, who died in October 2021.
  • A total of $5,000 went to Lauren Hampton, the widow of Officer Brian Hampton, who died in May 2020, a few days after Mosher was killed.

What does Outreach Marketing have to do with this?

Beyond the problems laid out in the audit, questions remain about the foundation’s dealings with an Arizona-based telemarketing firm, Outreach Marketing.

The Overland Park Police Officers Foundation contracted Outreach for multiple years to raise money on its behalf.

According to publicly available 990 tax forms, Outreach Marketing raised more than $1.2 million for the foundation between 2017 and 2020.

Those same forms report that Outreach Marketing kept roughly 74% of the money raised on behalf of the foundation, returning roughly $331,000 for all four years to the foundation.

Howe, the Johnson County DA, said last week his investigation did not touch this issue, noting that the foundation leadership signed a contract to work with Outreach Marketing.

This story was originally published by the Shawnee Mission Post.

Copyright 2023 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Kaylie McLaughlin