The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is alleging that former Goshen County Clerk of District Court Kathi Rickard began embezzling money from the court’s two checking accounts almost …
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is alleging that former Goshen County Clerk of District Court Kathi Rickard began embezzling money from the court’s two checking accounts almost as soon as she took office in July 2014.
Rickard took over the position July 2014, and was elected in 2014 and 2018. She’s been charged with six counts of felony theft and is currently free on a $150,000 unsecured bond; that’s intended to allow her to receive proper medical care for a litany of health issues. Rickard had cited medical problems when she resigned as clerk of district court in February.
An affidavit from DCI agent Michael Carlson shows that the discrepancies in her office’s accounts started small, at a few hundred dollars in 2014. Howevery, they quickly escalated to the point that Rickard was allegedly stealing thousands of dollars per month throughout most of her time as an elected official. During the time Rickard was in office, some $209,000 disappeared from the office’s accounts, the affidavit from Carlson alleges.
Carlson said an investigation was launched into the Eighth Judicial District Court’s books after then-deputy clerk Brandi Correa approached Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer to notify him that a pair of checks issued by the court had been returned and marked NSF, for non-sufficient funds.
Correa, now the clerk of district court, then found more than $100,000 was missing from the office’s bank accounts, which were maintained and administered by Rickard. Carlson obtained a search warrant for the accounts, and turned the findings over to an auditor. Carlson learned that the office used two checking accounts, known as WYUSER and QuickBooks.
“Upon completing his analysis, the auditor determined that between July 2014 and December 2018, approximately $58,678.28 in cash was missing from the WYUSER account and approximately $150,550.59 in cash was missing from the QuickBooks account,” the affidavit said. “The total of all the missing cash was $209,228.86.”
The auditor’s report showed that the first significant differences in the accounts began to show up in the summer of 2014 — when Rickard took over for the previous clerk. From June until December 2014, $9,445.49 went missing from the QuickBooks account.
The auditor’s report showed a difference in cash deposits to cash received nearly every month from the time Rickard took office in 2014 until December 2018. In 2014, there was a difference of $288 from the WYUSER account and $9,445.49 missing from the QuickBooks account. There were only negligible losses from WYUSER in 2015, but $10,856.39 was missing from QuickBooks. In 2016, WYUSER was $6,100 short, and QuickBooks was $20,269.67 short.
Greater sums disappeared from the court clerk’s accounts in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, QuickBooks was missing $51,320.09, and WYUSER was missing $21,413.94. In 2018, QuickBooks was $31,501.39 short, and WYUSER was $58,658.94 short.
In November and December 2018, Rickard’s last months as clerk, the accounts were missing a total of $8,709.32.
According to the affidavit, Carlson interviewed Rickard on Jan. 24. She told him that the checks could have been returned because on occasion funds were accidentally deposited into the wrong account. When Carlson asked about the pair of checks that were returned NSF, Rickard said she couldn’t explain it.
“Rickard said that she didn’t understand why funds were not available,” Carlson wrote in the affidavit, adding that “Rickard was surprised to find out that approximately $100,000 was missing from the account. Rickard couldn’t understand why the money wasn’t there because the only way the money could be dispersed was by the order of the judge, and the order to release the funds had not been issued.”
“Rickard also thought it was ‘weird;’ that cash had been discovered missing from the deposits made into the WYUSER accounts,” the affidavit said.
During the course of the investigation, Rickard allegedly admitted to taking “some of the money.”
“Numerous times after admitting responsibility for the missing cash, Rickard said she was sorry and asked how she was going to be able to pay it back,” Carlson wrote, adding, “Rickard said most of the money was used to pay bills, rent and cellphone bills for one of her daughters, whom she declined to identify.”
Rickard told Carlson she knew she wasn’t authorized to take the money.
“She claimed she had intentions of paying the money back,” the affidavit said. “Rickard claimed to have made cash deposits, as repayments, into the court accounts.”
The only specific incident listed in the affidavit was in August 2018. Correa received a $5,000 cash payment, but Rickard never deposited the money in the bank.
Her prosecution is being handled by special prosecutor Spencer Allred of Lincoln County.
During the Goshen County Board of Commissioners meeting on July 2, Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer said the county plans to seek restitution for the funds and to invoke its $10,000 bond on the clerk of district court’s office.
“We’ve also filed an insurance claim with the county’s insurer, and we’re honestly not sure if they’re going to deny that or not,” he said.