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Details of Callaway County collector's resignation still unknown

Details of Callaway County collector's resignation still unknown

March 18th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

The Callaway County Collector's office closed earlier this year following the resignation of Pam Oestreich.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /News Tribune.

Callaway County Collector Pam Oestreich's resignation last week has left county authorities with many questions.

Central Bank officials met with Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson on Thursday to discuss suspicious activity of a Callaway County checking account managed by the county collector, according to a news release from Wilson. Following that meeting, the prosecuting attorney informed Sheriff Clay Chism of the report, then Chism and Wilson contacted the FBI.

Soon afterward, Oestreich met with Chism and County Commissioner Gary Jungermann. She resigned, and the collector's office was closed immediately.

"There was not much said," Jungermann said Friday.

The commissioner's office hasn't been informed of the nature of the suspicious activity, Jungermann and Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said. "Suspicious" might indicate anything from unusual transactions to missing money to something else. That information has not been released to commissioners, Kleindienst said.

Did not Oestreich's letter of resignation explain why she was resigned, Jungermann said.

"There were some tears, but tears for what, I don't know," he added.

Oestreich did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A spokesperson for the FBI's Kansas City office said the FBI cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

Wilson and Chism also declined to give further details about the "suspicious activity."

"Because I've referred the matter to the FBI, I am not at liberty to discuss details of the bank's concerns," Wilson said Friday. "Clearly it was enough for me to immediately contact Sheriff Chism, and together we decided to contact the FBI."

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He said federal authorities have received his report and are "working diligently on that."

Jungermann delivered Oestreich's resignation to the office of Gov. Eric Greitens, as required by statute. Greitens will appoint a person to fill the collector's role until the next election.

This could take anywhere from a week to eight weeks, Jungermann said.

The county clerk has collected tax records and will submit them to an outside auditor. Callaway County is audited annually by an outside firm, Jungermann said. He added he's glad outside authorities are investigating the matter.

"They need to do their job of finding out what happened without any interference from us," he said.

County officials are unsure when the collector's office will reopen. In the meantime, Audrain County and Cole County have partnered with Callaway County to allow residents to pay personal property taxes.

Kleindienst said Callaway County residents may bring a cashier check or money order to the county courthouse in those two counties. In return, they'll be given a receipt — essential for renewing a vehicle registration, for example.