A federal grand jury indicted two former leaders of Kansas foster care contractor Saint Francis Ministries this month on alleged financial crimes, according to an article from the Kansas Reflector.
Prosecutors say former president and CEO Robert “Father Bobby” Smith approved invoices submitted by former IT director William Whymark that exaggerated the cost of providing IT services, amounting to at least $4.7 million in fraud.
They were indicted in the U.S. District Court in Topeka on wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. If convicted, they would face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in federal prison and millions of dollars in fines.
According to the indictment, Smith received $50,000 disguised as an authorized invoice and used Saint Francis credit cards to pay for personal expenses, including cash withdrawals, clothing and jewelry.
Saint Francis, a faith-based agency, is the largest foster care contractor in Kansas, providing services for Wichita and much of the rest of the state. The nonprofit also operates in Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.
Smith, an ordained priest, was the president and CEO of Saint Francis from 2014 until November 2020, when he resigned after a lawyer’s investigation substantiated whistleblower allegations of financial misconduct, the Kansas Reflector reported.
In the past year, turnover at Saint Francis Ministries rose to 41%, but Matt Stephens reportedly said that he doesn’t believe the indictment of the former staff, who haven’t been employed with the nonprofit for two years, affected morale.
“As the case moves forward, Saint Francis will continue to work transparently and collaboratively with federal authorities as part of the investigative process,” Saint Francis Ministries said in a statement. “We appreciate the diligence exhibited in the pursuit of justice by all parties.”
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