The City of Weston’s former collector pled guilty last week to stealing money from city water bill payments.
Lori B. Cogan, 30, of Weston, took $761 paid by residents for water bills between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2007.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “Stealing is always a crime, but stealing from a city government is like stealing from every Weston resident. Fortunately, this defendant’s scheme was uncovered without substantial loss to the public.”
Associate Circuit Judge Gary Witt ordered Cogan to serve two years probation. She was also ordered to spend two days in jail, pay full restitution, and complete 40 hours of community service. Cogan paid $761 in restitution at the guilty plea hearing.
According to Zahnd, on June 22, 2007, another Weston city employee noticed four large water accounts were delinquent and shut off notices had been sent to the customers. Several residents then provided receipts showing payments, but their accounts had not been credited. Some residents then produced statements where the amount due had been altered by Cogan.
An independent audit revealed that $761.26 had been skimmed from payments by a practice known as “lapping.” The funds were under the control and possession of Cogan.
Zahnd said, “It is easy to imagine the shock many Weston residents had when they were notified their water would be shut off for failing to pay bills, when they had actually paid. Sadly, criminals rarely consider who may suffer as a result of their bad acts.”
This case was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by assistant prosecutor Joe Vanover.