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Overland Park officers won't face charges for misconduct at police charity

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The four officers — Sgt. Brandon Faber, Officer Brad Heater, Sgt. Rachel Scattergood and Sgt. Tim Tinnin — were placed on paid leave more than a year ago while District Attorney Steve Howe’s office investigated claims that they misused funds for the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation while serving as board members.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe will not charge four Overland Park police officers for alleged misconduct related to their activities connected to a police charity.

The four officers — Sgt. Brandon Faber, Officer Brad Heater, Sgt. Rachel Scattergood and Sgt. Tim Tinnin — were placed on paid leave more than a year ago while Howe’s office investigated claims that they misused funds for the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation while serving as board members for the organization.

In a report issued Tuesday morning, Howe said he found that the officers under investigation “repeatedly disregarded the Foundation’s bylaws” but found that “a violation of bylaws does not necessarily equate to a violation of criminal laws.”

“We’re not saying that the foundation board acted appropriately, but there’s a difference between acting appropriately and having criminal conduct,” Howe said Tuesday afternoon in a press conference following his office’s decision not to file charges. “We don’t like the result, we don’t like how the foundation conducted themselves.”

Late last month, the Overland Park Fraternal Order of Police pressed the DA’s office to make a decision on whether to charge the officers or not following the lengthy investigation.

The local FOP lodge suspended the Foundation’s operations last year after it flagged concerns about the foundation’s former leadership’s disbursement of funds.

The charity is supposed to help families of fallen officers

Charity Navigator gave the police charity a score of 14% and a zero-star rating for IRS filing year 2016 and recommended potential donors “proceed with caution” when giving to the foundation.

The foundation was meant to “to assist law enforcement officers and their families in financial distress following catastrophic injury or death,” according to federal tax documents filed on behalf of the charity that same year.

That document also says the organization will use the charity to support “charitable outreach to the community” and “educational opportunities.”

Tinnin, Faber, Heater and Scattergood are all listed as officers for the foundation on tax forms filed between 2016 and 2020.

“They violated the public’s trust,” Howe said Tuesday, noting their documented use of foundation funds for purposes other than those initially outlined in the organization’s bylaws. “People are not going to be happy that they donated money thinking that it was for one intended purpose and instead it was for a much broader purpose that it was being used for.”

A man in a grey suit jacket and red pattered tie stands at a microphone-lined podium.
Kaylie McLaughlin
Shawnee Mission Post
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told reporters on Tuesday, October 17 he did not have enough evidence for criminal charges against four Overland Park police officers who allegedly misused money from a police charity.

He estimated that roughly $15,500 in scholarships and officer assistance was given to the foundation’s leadership while they were serving as board members. Scholarships were disbursed directly to Faber and Scattergood while they were on the board, even though it was against the bylaws.

The board's original bylaws prohibited giving officer assistance to board members to prevent self-enrichment. However, all four officers received between $1,000 and $4,000 in assistance, which they said they thought they were eligible to receive as members of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“The bylaws can be amended by the board,” Howe said. “By looking at the conduct of the board, even though they did not formalize an amendment to the bylaws, they basically amended the bylaws. ”

Officer Mike Mosher, who was killed in the line of duty in 2020, was also a founding board member of the charity and listed as the director and president in 2016. Howe said the Mosher family also received money from the foundation following his death, but did not specify what amount.

In 2022, new leadership took over the foundation, discovering no records of meetings and no business records, according to the district attorney’s report.

The foundation’s bylaws ordered such documents to be kept. There was also no annual audit, which was also required by the foundation’s rules, as well.

The foundation’s new leadership hired a forensic accountant to conduct an audit, the DA’s report says, which was ultimately handed over to Howe’s office.

The four officers refused to speak to the District Attorney’s office throughout the investigation. When Howe’s office sought electronic devices the board used to manage foundation affairs, it found that the devices were wiped before they were turned over. Current board members said that previous board members wiped the devices clean of any data because of personal information on the devices.

Officer’s employment with Overland Park Police uncertain

As of Tuesday, the four officers remain on paid leave.

The city of Overland Park’s Communications Manager Meg Ralph, in an emailed statement Tuesday, said “the city is awaiting the district attorney’s investigation materials to determine whether any violations of City policy occurred.”

She said the city’s investigation would occur “expediently.”

The Overland Park Fraternal Order of Police and the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation are both separate from the city’s police department.

How also said while he would not file criminal charges, he suspects there are civil violations.

He said the Kansas Attorney General is investigating the officers under the Kansas Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act. Howe said his office intends to cooperate with that investigation into what he views as “pretty obvious violations of that act.”

Here is a full copy of the district attorney’s report.

Page 1 of PR23-41-FOP-Investigation-Findings
Contributed to DocumentCloud by KCUR News (KCUR 89.3) • View document or read text

This story was originally posted on the Shawnee Mission Post. Savannah Hawley Bates contributed to this report.

Updated: October 17, 2023 at 5:23 PM CDT
This story was updated with comments from Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.
Kaylie McLaughlin covers Shawnee, Lenexa and USD 232 for the Shawnee Mission Post.
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