COOPER COUNTY – After the arraignment on Monday, Cooper County Clerk Darryl Kempf’s motion to have a different judge preside over his case was given to the Missouri Supreme Court for a decision.
The arraignment was quick as Kempf plead not guilty. Local Boonville Attorney Mark Wooldridge is representing Kempf who is being charged with intent to defraud, (willfully failed to make a sales tax return/pay sales tax/keep records/supply information), receiving stolen property and theft/stealing (value of property or services is less than $500). Two of these charges are felonies.
Judge Robert Koffman presided over the arraignment.
“On May 17, 2014, Cooper County Clerk Darryl Kempf entered into a lease agreement, on behalf of Cooper County, to lease a 2014 Toyota Tundra truck, for use in the Cooper County Clerk's office. On August 4, 2016, after making only 28 of the required 36 monthly lease payments, Kempf requested the county to issue a check for $4,843.20, which, in addition to a personal check issued by Kempf himself, was used to purchase the Toyota from Toyota Lease Trust. The date of this purchase was August 15, 2016, at which time the Toyota was purchased in Cooper County’s name. On August 23, 2016, Kempf titled the Toyota in the name of Cooper County at the Boonville office of the Missouri Department of Revenue. On August 29, 2016, Kempf asked Cooper County Deputy Clerk to sign a Missouri Department of Revenue Affidavit, Form 768, declaring that Cooper County was gifting the 2014 Toyota Tundra to Kempf. After obtaining the affidavit, Kempf traveled to the Columbia office of the Missouri Department of Revenue where he titled and registered the vehicle in his name. On the title application, the vehicle is listed as being exempt from Missouri State sales tax, due to it being acquired as a gift. On May 30, 2017, the deputy clerk was interviewed and acknowledged her signature was listed on the Missouri Department of Revenue Affidavit, but was unsure what she had signed. The deputy clerk indicated she trusted Kempf and he often had her sign documents for which she was unaware of what she was signing. The deputy clerk examined the document and stated that while her signature was listed on the form, all the other written information was in Kempf's handwriting. On May 30, 2017, Kempf was interviewed and indicated that when he leased the Toyota in 2014 (and) he did so with intentions to ultimately buy the truck at the conclusion of the lease. Kempf stated in 2016, he considered leaving office before his elected term ended and was fearful that his early departure would cause him to not be able to acquire the Toyota. Kempf stated (said) he asked Cooper County Treasurer to issue a check for $4,843.20 to satisfy the remaining eight months of the lease, a payment which was subsequently applied to the early purchase of the Toyota. Kempf admitted to titling the truck in the name of Cooper County, only to gift the truck to himself, days later, using the Missouri Department of Revenue Affidavit. Kempf admitted to preparing the Missouri Department of Revenue Affidavit, in an attempt to avoid paying sales tax, and admitted to going to the Columbia, Missouri branch of the Missouri Department of Revenue, to avoid detection by those who knew him in Boonville, Missouri. The total purchase price of the truck on August 17, 2016, was $28,390.67, which would have caused a sales tax obligation of $2,335.14 for Kempf, had he claimed his purchase to the State of Missouri. Of the total purchase price of $28,390.67, Kempf used $4,843.20 of Cooper County funds to purchase the Toyota for himself,” according to the probable cause statement.
The Missouri Attorney General stated this is the third corruption case being pursued this year.
“I promised to take on public corruption in Missouri,” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Kempf’s case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office following investigation by the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control. The State Auditor’s Office also assisted with the case.
Kempf has been the county clerk for three decades and is considered innocent until proven guilty.