wo former employees of the City of Parkville face criminal charges resulting from separate investigations.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said his office filed a felony complaint Friday against Richard D. Cullen, 36, of Kansas City, for acceding to corruption. The complaint alleges Cullen, a former Parkville police officer, required a woman he had stopped for speeding to remove her clothes so she would not be issued a traffic citation.
Zahnd also said his office charged Louella R. Smith, 43, of Kansas City, on Thursday with felony stealing. The charges against Smith allege that she stole more than $100,000 from Parkville over a three-year period when she served as the city’s municipal court administrator.
Zahnd said the charges were made possible because of the swift action of Parkville officials when they became aware of the illegal conduct.
“The first reaction in some cities when confronted with wrongdoing by an employee might be to sweep things under the rug,” he said.
“But Parkville did exactly the opposite. The mayor, police chief, and other officials took immediate action to remove the employees from their positions and requested outside agencies to conduct thorough investigations to uncover any wrongdoing.”
According to court documents filed in the case against Cullen:
Cullen was a Parkville police officer on June 9, 2004, when he stopped a 20-year-old woman in the early morning hours for speeding on Highway 45 in Parkville.
Cullen then asked the woman to follow him in her car to 8600 NW 45 Highway. Once there, the woman says Cullen required her to raise her shirt and bra, exposing her breasts. Cullen then had the woman disrobe from the waist down and had her bend over. Cullen allowed her to get dressed and leave the scene without writing her a traffic ticket.
The woman reported the incident, and Parkville Police Chief William Hudson asked the Platte County Sheriff’s Department to investigate the incident. Cullen resigned from the police force on June 11.
The Platte County Circuit Court issued a warrant for Cullen’s arrest on Friday and set bond at $5,000.
According to documents filed in the case against Smith:
On December 19, 2003, Parkville Municipal Judge Sandra Ferguson reported to the Parkville Police Department that funds appeared to be missing from the municipal court’s office. Ferguson indicated that a deposit containing only checks and money orders—but missing cash—had been found. Smith was immediately suspended pending a review of the court records, first with pay and later without pay.
Hudson asked the Kansas City, Police Department financial investigations section to conduct an investigation. Their investigation revealed that from March 2001 to December 2003 about $101,270 was missing from court deposits. The investigation indicates more than $12,000 was stolen in 2001, more than $31,000 in 2002 and more than $57,000 in 2003.
Smith’s first court appearance is set for Aug. 17.
Zahnd said, “With the full cooperation of the City of Parkville, independent investigations revealed wrongdoing by two city employees. In the rare instances where public employees abuse their positions to take advantage of the people they serve, we must take quick and decisive action. Fortunately, in these cases, Parkville officials did just that. It is never a good day when charges must be filed against police and court officials, but the public can rest assured that when public employees do wrong, they will be called to account for their actions.”
If convicted, Cullen faces a maximum of four years in prison. Smith faces a maximum of seven years in prison if she is convicted.