Former Pioneer Trails employee facing felony stealing charge | More than $18K charged to company credit card
Former Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission Homeland Security Planner Nicole Knipmeyer, of Sweet Springs, will soon face a class C felony charge of theft/stealing at an initial arraignment hearing. Originally scheduled for Sept. 7, at Lafayette Hall, in Lexington, it has now been postponed until further notice. According to a probable cause statement filed by Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Ellis Aug. 15, Knipmeyer made fraudulent charges to a Pioneer Trails company credit card totaling $18,291.02, over an approximate two-year period.
Pioneer Trails Executive Director Randy White had received a call from MasterCard on April 16 relating to delinquent payments, the probable cause statement noted. Pioneer Trails first obtained the credit card May 2013, through Equity Bank as a means of offering proof of purchase to Missouri Homeland Security for grant reimbursement purposes. The card was to be used when cash flow was limited and to be used sparingly by the office, with any purchases made being less than $3,500.
Since the case has not yet gone to trial, White was not at liberty to offer a statement at this time.
He made contact with Pioneer Trails Fiscal Officer Denise Jaegers to obtain the card statements to check if the account was delinquent and why, according to the probable cause statement. Over a 14-month period, multiple unauthorized charges were made. Billing statements were sent to Knipmeyer's personal residence since December 2014, at her request to MasterCard.
Along with serving as the homeland security planner for Pioneer Trails, Knipmeyer was the secondary financial officer as Jaeger's assistant, according to the probable cause statement. Pioneer Trails provided copies of the credit card statements from September 2014 to April 2016 to the Concordia Police Department, which handled the investigation.
There was a checkout sheet for the card, and it was used twice by Knipmeyer in 2013 for legitimate business-related purchases. Subsequent uses were not logged, however.
The investigating officer for the Concordia PD made contact with Knipmeyer on April 29 about the fraudulent charges at the police department. She was subsequently read her Miranda rights and spoke willingly without legal counsel.
According to the probable cause statement, Knipmeyer informed the officer she had used the credit card for personal purchases, including auto insurance payments, Internet purchases, gasoline and groceries.
In an explanation to the officer, Knipmeyer said the first time she used the Pioneer Trails card was an accident, as she was using an application on her phone in which she had added the card's information. She said more purchases were made before she realized she was using the company card.
When asked why she had not informed anyone of the mistake, Knipmeyer stated she believed she would get in trouble and tried to take care of it before anyone found out. She noted to the officer she never intended her continued use of the card and it got out of hand.
Knipmeyer provided a written statement to the officer, which was placed in the case file.
Editor's note: Charges contained in reports provided by law enforcement officials are not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting charges must be presented before a jury, whose duty is to determine if the accused is guilty or not guilty of the charges.
Note: Charles Dunlap is the lead reporter for The Concordian, a sister newspaper of The Marshall Democrat-News. It was first published in The Concordian Wednesday, Aug. 31.