Sheriff’s report lists Johnston, Parente
sheriff’s department incident report dealing with a criminal investigation at the City of Parkville lists two suspects and two alleged crimes.
The report, obtained via request by The Landmark, lists as suspects Mayor Nan Johnson and Joe Parente, city administrator. The incident report was created by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department on July 28.
Among the alleged crimes being investigated, according to the sheriff’s department document, are tampering with a public record and destruction of state records. A reference to an allegation of perjury is also made in the incident report.
The Landmark reached out to both Johnston and Parente this week for comment. Johnston had not responded by deadline.
Parente answered by saying: “I categorically deny the alleged offenses about me that are included in the incident report. They are both unfounded and untrue. I am also not aware of anyone else in the City of Parkville that has done the same. I have been advised by legal counsel not to make any further statements in regard to this,” Parente wrote in an email to The Landmark on Tuesday.
The Landmark exclusively reported in its Oct. 20 edition confirmation of an ongoing criminal investigation into the City of Parkville being conducted by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department.
The Parkville Board of Aldermen at a special meeting on Aug. 31, had voted to engage the legal services of attorney Mark Ferguson. With the investigation not yet public knowledge, the hiring at the time raised eyebrows in that Ferguson is most known for his work as a criminal defense attorney. The engagement of Ferguson’s services at this point seems a response to the sheriff’s department criminal investigation.
The sheriff’s department had issued an investigative subpoena to the city. An investigative subpoena is a legal order to produce documents by a particular date.
The city responded by filing a motion to quash the subpoena (reject by a legal procedure), but that request was denied by a judge in Platte County Circuit Court.
“We have already received some documents from the city in the process,” Major Erik Holland told The Landmark on Oct. 20. “I couldn’t tell you yet if we have everything we need.”
The investigation appears to have been prompted, at least in part, by city actions during the recent open records lawsuit brought by Jason Maki. During the course of that lawsuit, Judge James Van Amburg had approved subpoenas for personal email accounts used by city officials to conduct city business. The judge’s order was made on Aug. 24, 2020. Public records appear to indicate Johnston the next day took steps to permanently delete that subpoenaed email account, on Aug. 25, 2020, it is alleged in the incident report.
Maki eventually accepted a settlement offer of $195,000 from the city and the lawsuit was dropped. Maki says he offered to settle the case for much less than $195,000 if the city would agree to stop the practice of using personal email accounts to conduct city business. The city would not agree to that stipulation, Maki says.
That he is listed as a suspect in a criminal investigation that was opened in late July creates a new perspective on a recent announcement made by Parente. At the Oct. 5 Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting at which Parente was not present, Johnston announced that Parente would be “retiring” in March. Perhaps related, perhaps not, a closed door executive session for personnel reasons had been held prior to that Oct. 5 meeting.
Johnston claimed that Parente “had notified me several months ago that he would be retiring.”
The criminal investigation opened two months prior to the public announcement of Parente’s pending retirement.