Former Northland politician who was focus of 41 Action News investigation gets jail time, fine

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A former Northland politician who was the focus of a 41 Action News investigation was sentenced to jail time and a hefty fine for a corruption conviction.

Platte County Judge Dennis Eckold sentenced Kevin Rawlings to 15 days in jail and one year probation starting 5 p.m. Thursday.

Rawlings was ordered to pay $125,000 in restitution to the Platte County Northland Regional Ambulance District within the next 30 days. He must also pay a $650 appraisal fee and any court costs.

RELATED | Former Northland politician admits to corruption http://bit.ly/S26HxS

"I am pleased in a case like this that when someone steals from taxpayers they not only have to repay that money but that they're also sentenced to jail," said Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd.

Rawlings was the former board president of the NRAD. He pleaded guilty to misuse of public information on Oct. 16. Authorities launched their criminal case in the wake of a 41 Action News investigation that questioned a land deal between Rawlings and NRAD.

RELATED | Following investigation, Northland politician faces charges for land deal http://bit.ly/ye233s

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.

Even though the crime is only a misdemeanor, Zahnd argued for a 30-day jail sentence because he considered it a "very serious crime."

RELATED | Northland taxpayers question land deal between ambulance service and its own board president http://bit.ly/QKKyVS

"I believe the taxpayers should have been given a little more money back. I believe that the jail time should have been more but at the end of the day the judge has to make those decisions," Zahnd told 41 Action News. 

Rawlings' attorney, Kathleen Fisher, 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 the judge he didn't think he was doing anything wrong at the time, but now realizes it was a "terrible, bad conflict of interest."

Both Rawlings and Fisher declined to comment after Thursday's sentencing.

This story started with a tip. Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook .

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