PLATTE CITY, Mo. - A former Northland politician who was the focus of a 41 Action News investigation will not learn his punishment for a corruption conviction until next week.
After hearing opposing arguments during a sentencing hearing Friday morning, Platte County Judge Dennis Eckold said he will announce Kevin Rawlings’ punishment next Thursday, December 6.
Judge Eckold’s two big decisions will be how much money Rawlings should refund taxpayers, and whether or not the former board president of the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD) should spend any time in jail.
Rawlings pleaded guilty to misuse of public information on October 16. Authorities launched their criminal case in the wake of a 41 Action News investigation that questioned a land deal between Rawlings and NRAD.
Rawlings sold a 1.5-acre piece of land for $175,000 as a location for a new ambulance station. Prosecutors said Rawlings profited nearly $145,000 at the taxpayers’ expense for the inside deal.
During the sentencing hearing, an appraiser for the prosecution valued the piece of land at $30,600. An opposing appraiser for the defense said it was worth $65,000.
Either way, it appears Rawlings will be looking at taxpayer restitution of more than $100,000.
Even though the crime is only a misdemeanor, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd argued for a 30-day jail sentence because he considered it a “very serious crime.”
“When a bank robber steals, we try to get the money back and then we put him in prison. We ought to do the same thing with public officials who steal tax money,” Zahnd told 41 Action News.
Rawlings’ attorney, Kathleen Fisher, asked her client to not do any interviews until after Judge Eckold’s decision next week.
However, in court, she argued that jail time was not necessary because Rawlings had a previously clean record and his reputation had suffered major damage from the media coverage.
Rawlings told Judge Eckold that he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong at the time, but now realizes it was a “terrible, bad conflict of interest.”
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.