Woman admits embezzling $717,000 from St. John's College of Nursing in Springfield
 2008St. John's employee newsletter

A woman from Republic pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday (10-11-11) for embezzling more than $717,000 from St. John’s Mercy Health Care Systems and the College of Nursing.

The investigation into Amy Phillips, 39, who waived her right to a grand jury before she pleaded guilty to charges of theft of program funds and tax evasion, began in 2009.  Shortly after Springfield police investigator's confirmed that they were looking at Phillips into the alleged misappropriation of funds from the nursing school, Phillips, who was treasurer of the PTO, was arrested by police in Republic for suspicion of stealing from the organization.

Phillips was employed as an administrative assistant from Jan. 15, 2001, to Feb. 26, 2009, for the College of Nursing, a division of St. John’s Mercy Health Care Systems, which was run jointly with Southwest Baptist University. In that position, she was responsible for the upkeep of the facilities, College of Nursing staff payroll, budgetary issues and general administrative duties for the dean and program director of the College of Nursing.

Phillips admitted that she used two methods of embezzlement to steal substantial sums of money from St. John’s and the College of Nursing.

  • Between 2004 and 2007, Phillips intercepted checks intended for St. John’s and the College of Nursing, and deposited them into her personal bank account. She stole nearly $61,000 under this scheme, until her bank informed her, in 2007, that she would have to be listed as the payee for any checks deposited into her account.

  • From 2007 to 2009, Phillips used the Student Nurses Association bank account at the St. John’s Employees’ Credit Union, which was a private savings account owned and funded by the students of the College of Nursing. Phillips deposited checks made payable to St. John’s and the College of Nursing into the Student Nurses Association bank account, and on the same day withdrew the funds, which she used for her personal benefit. Phillips stole more than $657,000 under this scheme, for a total theft of $717,999.
Phillips also pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Phillips admitted she did not claim the embezzled funds as taxable income on her federal tax returns from 2004 through 2008. Phillips pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion regarding her federal income tax for 2008.

Although Phillips only claimed $26,759 in taxable income, according to the plea agreement, she actually had approximately $210,064 in income as a result of her embezzlement. Over the course of five years, the plea agreement states, Phillips should have paid an additional $115,117 in income taxes on the unreported theft income.

By pleading guilty, Phillips also agreed to pay $717,999 in restitution to St. John’s and $115,117 plus interest to the IRS. St. John’s reimbursed Southwest Baptist University for all funds that Phillips embezzled from university activities and functions.

Under federal statutes, Phillips is subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

The IRS, the U.S. Secret Service and the Springfield Police Department investigated this case.

No charges were filed against Phillips in connection to the alleged theft of funds from the Republic PTO.
UPDATE 02-17-12:

Phillips was sentenced to 2 and-a-half years in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay the school $717,999 and pay the IRS $115,117 plus interest for tax evasion.