Former Christian County Assessor Sandra Bryant-Littles

An elected official in Christian County who pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges last week has officially resigned.

Sandra Bryant-Littles was charged with four counts of mail fraud in October 2009 for not properly assessing property that she and her husband, Lonnie Utah Littles owned.

In a one-sentence letter sent to Gov. Jay Nixon’s office Monday, Bryant-Littles said she resigned “effective immediately” as the county’s assessor.

A judge temporarily removed Bryant-Littles from office after Attorney General Chris Koster filed a petition to remove her from office based on the allegations.  She was barred from serving the county in an official capacity, but has continued to collect her almost $50,000 annual salary.
Lonnie Utah Littles and Sandra Bryant Littles leaving federal courthouse (courtesy Springfield News-Leader)
 Bryant-Littles’s fraud was discovered when law enforcement officers investigating a cattle theft reported by her husband reviewed their personal property assessment forms, and discovered that no cattle were listed.  Further investigation revealed that numerous other assets were omitted.  When confronted about the discrepancies, Bryant-Littles admitted to law enforcement officers that she knew the forms were not correct, and asked if she could correct them.  Bryant-Littles was arrested at her county office the morning of Oct. 15, 2009.

For his role in the scheme, Lonnie Littles admitted he contacted his insurance representative on Dec. 17, 2008, in order to increase his insurance coverage on his cattle,from $60,000 to $100,000. Then, shortly before a Liberty Bank representative was scheduled to inspect his cattle, Lonnie Littles conspired with his ranch hand and co-defendant, Jesse D. Rice, 58, also of Clever, to falsely report the cattle stolen.  Lonnie Littles told Rice to file the bogus report the weekend of Feb. 8, 2009, while he and his wife were out of town, traveling and conducting prison ministry.

Jesse D. Rice Interview With KY3

The morning of Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, Rice contacted the Christian County Sheriff’s Department to report the theft of 53 head of cattle, although no cattle had been stolen. On the same day, Lonnie Littles filed a fraudulent insurance claim for $66,250.00.  Littles admitted he committed wire fraud by instructing Rice to provide two on-camera interviews falsely claiming that the cattle had been stolen, which were broadcast on Feb. 8 and 9, 2009, by television stations KY3 and KOLR-10.
Bryant-Littles faces up to 80 years in prison without the possibility of parole and a fine of up to $1 Million dollars when she is sentenced. Lonnie Littles could be sentenced up to 130 years without parole and fined $3.5 Million dollars when he is sentenced.

Governor Jay Nixon will name a replacement to serve the remainder of Bryant-Littles term, which expires in 2012.