Cooper County Clerk charged with theft
BOONVILLE - Prosecutors have charged Cooper County Clerk Darryl Kempf with stealing and receiving stolen property after he allegedly bought a truck in the county's name, then gifted it to himself.
According to court documents, Kempf leased a Toyota pickup truck on behalf of the county in May 2014. In August, 2016, before all required lease payments had been made, Kempf apparently used county and personal money to buy the truck in the county's name.
The documents said Kempf then titled the truck on behalf of the county before asking a deputy clerk to sign a document claiming the county gifted the truck to Kempf. At that point, according to a probable cause statement, Kempf titled and registered the truck to himself in Columbia, listing it as tax exempt because it was a gift.
The deputy clerk admitted to signing the previously mentioned document, but said she didn't know what she signed, and that except for her signature all other written information was in Kempf's hand. She told investigators she trusted Kempf, and he would often have her sign documents for which she didn't know what she was signing.
When authorities talked to Kempf, he told them he leased the truck with intentions of buying it when the lease was up. When in 2016 he considered leaving office, though, Kempf said he worried doing so would mean he wouldn't be able to buy the truck. He then admitted to gifting the truck to himself and registering it in Boone County to "avoid detection by those who knew him in Boonville."
The Missouri Attorney General's Office has been appointed as special prosecuting attorney in this case, at the request of the Cooper County Prosecutor's Office.