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Former Callaway County collector seeks low sentence

Former Callaway County collector seeks low sentence

January 17th, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News
Pamela Oestreich

FULTON, Mo. — Former Callaway County Collector Pamela Oestreich told the court Friday her gambling addiction led to her confessed theft of about $300,000.

She's requested a shorter prison sentence of 60 days, rather than the longer term of incarceration requested by prosecutors, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Friday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

"Because of her gambling addiction Oestreich did not personally and financially benefit from her theft to any great extent," stated her lawyer, Daniel Hunt, in the sentencing memorandum. "The present offense has only served to damage her otherwise excellent reputation without any real benefit to her."

Timothy Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District court, recommended a sentence of 37 months of imprisonment and three years' supervised release in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday.

"In an age of increasing public skepticism of the integrity of government institutions and public officials, Oestreich's crime has an exceptionally troubling impact on the public trust of fundamental government operations," Garrison said. "The sentence imposed by this court must protect the public from faithless public officers, deter other public officials from similar conduct, promote respect for the law, including those who enforce it, and impose a just punishment."

Oestreich pleaded guilty Sept. 24 to one count of stealing from an organization that receives federal funds, admitting to stealing some $300,000 from the tax payments received by her office. Her sentencing is set for at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 23 before Western District Judge Stephen R. Bough.

Her plea agreement requires her to pay $279,957 in restitution, and the charge to which she pleaded guilty could carry 37-46 months in federal prison, according to the Office of the United States Attorney in the Western District of Missouri.

Oestreich held the collector's office from 1999-2018. Central Bank officials reported suspicious activity in a collector's office-controlled checking account on March 15, 2018, and reported it to Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson.

On March 19, county commissioners requested a state audit, which is required by law any time a county collector's seat is vacated. State Auditor Nicole Galloway's office discovered about $300,000 had gone missing. Much of it was cash tax payments Oestreich simply never deposited.

Oestreich also wrote herself about $71,000 in checks from county funds, Galloway said.