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Slain children’s former lawyer under new investigation

Thursday, October 9, 2008 | 2:38 p.m. CDT; updated 3:24 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 9, 2008

KANSAS CITY — An Independence lawyer who invested money from a memorial fund for two slain children into his own company is being investigated for possible securities fraud.

The probe involves another investment in which Kent Desselle allegedly lost a woman's $400,000 savings and did not tell her for eight years. He was to invest the money in low-risk funds.

The allegations are outlined in a cease-and-desist order that Missouri Securities Commissioner Matthew Kitzi filed against Desselle, prohibiting him and his company from selling unregistered securities.

A hearing on the order is scheduled for Oct. 24 in Jefferson City.

Desselle told The Kansas City Star that he could not comment on the investigation "for confidentiality reasons."

Desselle severed ties earlier this year with the Sam and Lindsey Porter Support Center, which honors two Independence children killed by their father in 2004. The lawyer took $20,000 of about $30,000 in donations to the children's memorial fund and invested it in his company, New Century Investments, without telling the children's mother.

After complaints, Desselle returned the money to the bank where the memorial fund was set up. He said in a written statement in February that the funds had been placed back into the original account with accrued interest.

According to the order filed against Desselle, the case involving the woman's $400,000 in lost savings dates back to 1996. Desselle, who knew the woman's late husband, allegedly told her he would invest her savings in low-risk funds.

The woman became concerned after hearing about Desselle's involvement in the memorial fund for the slain children, according to the securities commissioner's findings.

In February, she and Desselle traded e-mails. In the first of the messages, she asked the lawyer to start the process of taking out her investments, and he responded that her funds were secure.

When the woman asked him again to return her funds, the findings say Desselle responded that "through a series of poor decisions on my part your investment was lost between 1998 and 2000. All funds you have received over the last eight years have been from my personal earnings."

Investigators in the secretary of state's office reviewed the woman's records and found that at least one of the $2,000 checks she received from Desselle was written on the account for the slain children's memorial fund.

 


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