The President of the Northland Regional Ambulance District has been charged with misusing official information stemming from a land transaction that allegedly netted him $144,000. Kevin N. Rawlings, 40, of Dearborn, allegedly purchased land in an area where he knew the ambulance district was planning to build a new station.
Rawlings bought the land for $130,000 and later resold a portion of the land to the ambulance district for $175,000. According to court documents, an appraiser valued the land Rawlings sold to the ambulance district at just $30,600.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said Rawlings was charged by Platte County prosecutors on February 1, following an investigation by the county’s Sheriff’s Department.
According to court documents, in April 2006, Rawlings was elected to the Board of Directors of the Northland Regional Ambulance District, commonly known as NRAD. As early as 2008, Rawlings allegedly knew that NRAD planned to build a new station in the area of U Highway and the Camden Point exit of Interstate 29.
In April 2010, Rawlings purchased approximately 34 acres in that area for $130,000. During a September 20, 2010 board meeting, Rawlings allegedly directed NRAD Executive Director Tom Taylor to begin searching for available property in the same area.
In October 2010, the NRAD board voted to begin negotiations to purchase two acres of the land owned by Rawlings. The board directed an appraisal of the land to be completed; however, court documents indicate that no appraisal was ever completed.
During a November 15, 2010 Board meeting closed to the public, NRAD’s attorney suggested that bid specifications be drawn to solicit bids from the public for property in the Camden Point area. Bids were posted in the local newspapers, but Rawlings was the only person to make a formal bid. In addition, negotiations to purchase the property from Rawlings had allegedly begun prior to the bid posting.
When another potential land seller in the area came forward, Rawlings allegedly directed Thomas to reply that NRAD already has “a contract on [the] ground” and that NRAD “won’t be needing any more” bids.
In March 2011, Rawlings sold 1.5 acres of land to NRAD for $175,000. A November 2011 appraisal valued the property at approximately $30,600.
Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson acknowledged that public corruption cases are rarely investigated by a county Sheriff’s Department.
“While it is much more common for us to investigate burglaries, murders, and rapes than so-called ‘white collar’ crimes, we simply could not overlook the very serious allegations of misuse of taxpayer dollars in this case,” he said.
Court documents indicate the Missouri Ethics Commission also investigated the transaction. Anderson said his department’s investigation was coordinated with the Commission. Zahnd said Missouri law allows the Commission to refer its findings to a county prosecutor, which occurred in this case.
Zahnd also recognized a Platte County newspaper and a Kansas City television station for their stories questioning the land deal shortly after it occurred. “This case would never have come to light without the in-depth investigative reporting of The Platte County Landmark newspaper and NBC Action News,” he said. “Those stories prompted the investigation which resulted in the charge against this defendant.”
Rawlings has been charged with misuse of official information, which is a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
A summons will be issued to Rawlings directing him to appear in court on a date to be determined. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kalwei.
The charge against Rawlings is merely an accusation, and Rawlings is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.