COLUMBUS — A report from the state auditor's office concluded that former Platte County adult pretrial diversion coordinator Traci Nelsen failed to deposit more than $56,000 in program fees to the county treasurer during a three-year period.
The figure was included in the 2016-17 annual audit report released this week by the state office.
Nelsen, 43, has been charged with two counts of theft and one count of tampering with physical evidence and is awaiting a Feb. 5 jury trial in Platte County District Court.
According to the auditor’s report, a total of 425 cases were referred to the pretrial diversion program during a three-year period ending last summer, with fees totaling $26,710 for 246 of those cases not deposited with the county treasurer’s office.
In 50 of the 246 cases, only partial payment records could be located, but court documents show the participants successfully completed the program. In 142 of the cases, no payment records were found, but the participants completed the program.
It is “reasonable” to believe the participants in those cases paid all program fees, which would account for an additional roughly $29,000 in missing funds, according to a summary in the audit report.
The remaining 37 cases, the report concluded, are for participants who are still in the diversion program or whose cases related only to restitution, with records not indicating diversion money was received by the program.
The adult diversion program’s minimum fee is $160 per case, which includes the $40 application fee and $30 monthly charge for four months.
The audit included a detailed review of payment records discovered on Nelsen's tablet and flash drive and documents that were located in a locked file cabinet, as well as program participant and victim interviews conducted by the county attorney's office.
The review identified multiple fraudulent and questionable transactions, according to the audit report.
In total, Nelsen is accused of diverting more than $56,000 in program fees to personal use.
The Monroe woman faces theft charges stemming from the missing funds. The tampering charge alleges she destroyed physical evidence of the thefts sometime in August as an official inquiry was about to get underway.
The theft charges are Class 2A felonies, each punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. The tampering with physical evidence charge is a Class IV felony with a penalty of up to two years in prison, 12 months of post-release supervision and a $10,000 fine.
Nelsen, who left her position with Platte County in late August, was previously convicted of similar criminal charges in 2003 in Kansas.
The Monroe woman voluntarily surrendered her license to practice law in Kansas after being convicted of theft and false reporting, both misdemeanor offenses. When Nelsen was disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court in June 2003, she was facing a formal complaint filed against her by the state’s disciplinary administrator’s office.
Nelsen was hired as the Platte County victims assistance coordinator in 2009 and named coordinator of the newly created adult diversion program in April 2014.