The Cass County Circuit Clerk is facing criminal charges and a civil petition. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed the court documents on Tuesday.
Amy Bell is accused of failing to preserve records and failure to manage certain funds. Koster’s office claims she hired a close friend to complete a special project that would transfer paper records into an electronic format. The friend was paid, but the project was never completed, and numerous court documents were lost in the process.
Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins suspended Bell from her position after these allegations came forward. Koster’s civil petition asks to have Bell permanently removed from office.
Press Release from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today filed a civil petition and misdemeanor charges against Cass County Circuit Clerk Amy Bell. The two-count misdemeanor charge alleges that Bell willfully failed (1) to properly preserve the records of the Circuit Court of Cass County, and (2) to manage funds earmarked for scanning and purging hard copy files. In addition to the criminal charges, the civil petition asks the circuit court to remove Bell from office.
In the civil case, Koster alleges that Bell failed to pay the circuit court’s bills on time; failed to stop payment or void undeliverable checks; failed to adequately document all of the court’s bank accounts; and failed to prepare necessary paperwork to file an insurance claim regarding funds allegedly stolen by a deputy clerk. Koster said Bell was suspended from her position as circuit clerk on August 20, 2013 by Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins, after Bell hired a close friend to oversee three special projects involving the transfer of paper records into an electronic format. Although Bell’s friend was paid to do the work, Koster said, the work was never completed and resulted in the loss of numerous court documents including original judgments, child support letters, exhibits, and in one case, an entire case file. Bell has ten days to file a response to the allegations against her.
Koster became involved in Bell’s case when his office was appointed as a special prosecutor by Judge Collins. Koster, previously served as Cass County Prosecuting Attorney from 1994 to 2004.