SEDALIA, Mo. — A former administrator of the Pettis County Ambulance District has pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud as part of a plea deal reached with Acting U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Missouri’s office.

Michael Gardner, courtesy Pettis County Jail

According to a news release, Michael P. Gardner, 62, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday morning to embezzling more than $227,000 from ambulance district accounts.

Gardner, who served as district administrator from December 2012 until March of 2017 when his crimes were discovered, entered a guilty plea on a federal indictment charging him with a single count of bank fraud.

Gardner admitted forging the signatures of district board members on a total of 44 checks, amounting to $123,721. He also told investigators he had received nearly $104,000 in unapproved payroll expenses over the course of two years.

Gardner was arrested in March after two members of the board had presented Sedalia police with evidence of mismanagement of funds and embezzlement from a number of district accounts.

Following an investigation, he admitted to forging signatures on checks made out to himself or to his then-girlfriend, proceeding to deposit them in personal accounts.

The agreement reached between Gardner’s attorneys and government counsel recommends a sentence of two years in federal prison without the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.