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Published On: Sun, Sep 23rd, 2018

Missouri Democrat Mike Sanders, Chief of Staff Calvin Williford sentenced to prison for stealing campaign funds

A former elected county executive for Jackson County, Missouri and his chief of staff were sentenced to 27 months and six months in prison, respectively, for engaging in a scheme to steal campaign contributions, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Michael Sanders, 51, of Independence, Missouri, and Calvin Williford, 60, of St. Joseph, Missouri, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark of the Western District of Missouri.  Sanders was sentenced on Wednesday to serve 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $40,000 in forfeiture.  Williford was sentenced today to serve six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $36,000 in forfeiture.  The defendants each pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Jan. 26.

photo/ Vartza

According to admissions made in connection with their pleas, Sanders was the elected County Executive for Jackson County from January 2007 until December 2015.  Prior to serving as County Executive, Sanders was the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County.  Williford was a senior staff member for Sanders, and then later chief of staff, in the Office of the County Executive from 2007 to December 2015.  Prior to then, Williford served as Sanders’s Director of Public Affairs at the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  Sanders and Williford defrauded political committees with which Sanders was affiliated by converting campaign contributions for their personal use.  Sanders and Williford misappropriated the money by directing the political committees to issue checks to certain individuals who performed little or no campaign-related work.  Instead, the individuals cashed the checks and then returned a portion of the money to Sanders or Williford, who used the cash at times to pay for personal expenses.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Kansas City Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

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