Trustee: Southwest Missouri village will survive

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | 12:08 p.m. CST; updated 12:30 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 24, 2009

LEAWOOD — An official in this southwest Missouri village said Tuesday that it isn't in any danger of going bankrupt, even though its bank accounts have been wiped out and its longtime treasurer faces felony stealing charges.

Gene Paul Boyd, 62, was charged Monday with stealing at least $25,000, but investigators think he took at least $325,000 between 2004 and 2008 alone. Overall, about $673,000 of village money is missing.

Boyd posted $50,000 bond Monday and was released. His attorney, Daniel Whitworth, did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Boyd was treasurer from at least 1978 to October — exactly when he took the job is uncertain — and he pretty much had carte blanche in dealing with the village's finances.

"He came up with reports, said it was all good and everyone said OK," said Detective Randall Scott with the Newton County Sheriff's Department.

The village doesn't have many bills, said board of trustees chairman Denis Desmond, and there's still more money coming in than going out. But the community of about 900 people just south of Joplin doesn't have much of a financial cushion after Desmond discovered that money trustees had been told was in the bank wasn't there.

"We have to regroup and decide where do we go from here," said Desmond, who has been on the board since 2000. "The money was mainly earmarked to maintain the roads, but there's nothing short term that just has to be done."

Scott said "a lot of paper trails, huge paper trails" make a pretty clear case against Boyd.

"I've got records going back prior to the availability of bank records, farther back than bank records," Scott said. "The totals of those records indicate $673,000 and change came in, and where's it at?

"I have no proof of where that money went, but it's not in a savings account."

Boyd resigned in mid-October after local officials grew suspicious about how the village's money was being spent.

Scott said that a treasurer's report dated Sept. 23 indicated a balance of $252,553.21 in certificates of deposit and commercial funds in the bank, but those funds did not exist.

Desmond acknowledged there wasn't much, if any, oversight of Boyd in his role as treasurer. He described Boyd as a pretty normal member of the middle-class village and said nobody had any reason to question his integrity.

"He's been in the community a long time," Desmond said. "He's a churchgoing kind of guy, like they usually are. He provided the reports and copies of bank statements that were falsified, and there were really no questions brought up over the years."


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