Kansas crime and punishment / News

KS Crime & Punishment: Save yourself some grief. Do a background check.

I’ve written about it before, I’m doing it again, and I won’t be surprised when the issue resurfaces in the future.

Background checks. Or, the lack thereof.

If you’re an employer or just a parent looking for a good babysitter, there are ways to check a person’s background that are free or relatively inexpensive. Find out if the person has pending charges or convictions in Kansas by doing a Kansas District Court Records search, which costs $1 per search. Or, search your county’s court records for free by using the public computers that are available in every Kansas courthouse.

Has the person served time in a Kansas prison? Try the free offender search through the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Today, I talked to Jim Schwarzenberger, executive director of the Newton Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. Although he didn’t comment on whether the Chamber did a KDOC (KASPER) search on Kayla Tillery’s background when she was hired in November, he didn’t need to. Had the check been completed, Chamber employees would’ve seen Tillery’s criminal history includes at least eight forgeries and eight thefts. She has 18 prior convictions from 2006 in Barton County alone.

On Wednesday, Harvey County Attorney David Yoder announced his office filed a charge of forgery against Tillery alleging she forged a $5,500 check in the name of the Newton Chamber of Commerce. She’s also accused of stealing more than $25,000 from the Chamber’s “Newton Bucks” program, which she was coordinating before her employment as the Chamber’s operations specialist and program coordinator was terminated Feb. 28.

Schwarzenberger says the Chamber has taken action and implemented safeguards to prevent theft in the future. He said he couldn’t comment on what those safeguards are, however, and if they include the KDOC’s offender search.

“We already have put additional safeguards in place and anticipate continuing that process,” Schwarzenberger said today.


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