Former Northland politician who was focus of 41 Action News investigation admits to corruption

PLATTE CITY, Mo. - A former Northland politician pleaded guilty to corruption on Tuesday.

Kevin Rawlings faced a criminal charge for misusing public information when he was board president of the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD).

Prosecutors say he profited nearly $145,000 at the taxpayers' expense after orchestrating a land deal near the Camden Point exit along Interstate 29.

"I think it's important for public officials to know you can't use inside information to feather your own nest," said Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd after the court appearance.

According to court documents, through his role as board president, Rawlings knew NRAD wanted to build a new ambulance station in that location.

Rawlings purchased the property in 2010 and then sold the piece of land to taxpayers less than a year later for $175,000. However, an appraisal ordered by law enforcement placed the land's value closer to $30,000.

Rawlings was the focus of a 41 Action News investigation back in 2011 that questioned the inside deal. Authorities later credited the report for helping to launch the criminal investigation.

41 Action News also caught up with Rawlings at his home in Dearborn on the day he was criminally charged back in February.

Following Tuesday's guilty plea, Judge Dennis Eckold scheduled a sentencing hearing for November 1.

Attorneys indicated there would be some type of restitution for taxpayers. However, both sides are expected to argue about the value of the land at the sentencing hearing.

A conviction for misuse of public information can carry a jail sentence of up to one year or a fine of $1,000.

Rawlings' attorney, Kathleen Fisher, said she and her client would not comment until after the sentencing hearing.

In previous NRAD board meetings, angry taxpayers have demanded Rawlings pay the money back.

Kirby Holden, who filed a complaint to the Missouri Ethics Commission last year, said he was most disappointed that none of the other NRAD board members put a stop to the land deal.

"If I came home and said I spent $18 on a gallon of milk, you know that's wrong," said Holden. "I want them to spend money on raises for employees and new ambulances. Not giving it to somebody to swindle land."

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

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