A Platte County official is now out of a job after an investigation revealed a series of questionable purchases using county funds during the past 15 months.
Over the weekend, Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd filed a felony stealing charge against Kenneth M. Bozenhardt, 54, of Platte City after he allegedly admitted making personal purchases with the county’s credit card and business account. The Platte County Commission held a closed meeting Monday, Aug. 8 to discuss personnel matters, and the commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of terminating the director of facilities for Platte County.
Bozenhardt allegedly spent more than $1,000 on various items, including those used to construct and decorate a beer garden at his home. Other details in court documents reveal an unreceipted credit card purchase at a local gas station that he originally told county officials was for “doughnuts for the men” that turned out to be a bottle of Sailor Jerry brand spiced rum.
Due to Bozenhardt’s employment with the county, Zahnd plans to ask the court to seek a special prosecutor for the case.
The charges were filed against Bozenhardt on Saturday, Aug. 6 after he came into custody on a 24-hour investigative hold. He later posted bond and has been released.
According to court documents, Platte County auditor Kevin Robinson notified authorities on Thursday, Aug. 4 of personal expenditures Bozenhardt made on the county’s business account at The Home Depot. The purchases occurred between early May and late June and included lumber, potting planters, potting pebbles, plant brackets, a watering can and a sun shade.
When asked about the purchases, Bozenhardt allegedly said the items, totaling more than $350, were used for various county projects.
However, interviews with facilities employees could not verify those claims, and a purchase made on a Sunday went outside of normal business practices. According to court documents, Bozenhardt even brought the sun shade to the facilities department to use during a law enforcement appreciation cookout.
Bozenhardt also allegedly told employees about building his beer garden and bragged about using the sun shade on that part of his property.
Prior to making the purchases allegedly used on his beer garden, Bozenhardt also allegedly used county funds to make various purchases. Court documents show county invoices for a welder valued at nearly $300 in May of 2015 and a tool cabinet valued at nearly $100 in November of 2015. In April of 2016, Bozenhardt purchased a nearly $300 Toro lawnmower with county funds.
None of those items appeared in the county inventory at the time of the investigation.
County commissioners paid out all of the invoices following standard protocol. County procedures require signatures of at least two commissioners before any payment requisition is paid.
In addition to the invoice purchases, investigators contacted a local convenience store about a purchase of $16.89 made on July 7 of this year with a county credit card. According to court documents, Bozenhardt allegedly told Robinson the money was spent on doughnuts at 6:14 a.m. despite not having a receipt. However, an employee at the convenience store found the transaction was for a 750 ml bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, which cost $15.99 plus tax.
On Friday, Aug. 5, investigators went to Bozenhardt’s home, and he voluntarily agreed to go to the Platte County Law Enforcement Center for an interview. Bozenhardt rode unsecured in the front seat of a patrol car.
Bozenhardt allegedly admitted to making all of the purchases for personal use and stated the items could be found at his residence. He also allegedly admitted to making about $200 from scrapping materials at maintenance jobs done in Platte County.
According to court documents, Bozenhardt allegedly told investigators that he intended to repay the money. Investigators recovered the property purchased on the county’s business account at The Home Depot while serving a search warrant at his home in a rural part of Platte County west of Platte City.