Former Warren County Assessor Wendy (Nordwald) Kozma has pleaded guilty to 15 felony charges of stealing, stemming from an investigation into alleged embezzlement from the Missouri State …
Former Warren County Assessor Wendy (Nordwald) Kozma has pleaded guilty to 15 felony charges of stealing, stemming from an investigation into alleged embezzlement from the Missouri State Assessor’s Association (MSAA).
Kozma appeared in Warren County Circuit Court June 30 to submit the guilty plea for the charges brought against her in 2021 after a Missouri Highway Patrol investigation alleged that she had taken over $250,000 from MSAA’s education fund, which she oversaw.
The judge overseeing the case, Sonya Brandt of Osage County, has set a sentencing date of Aug. 26. Each of the felony stealing charges has a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison, although it’s rare for judges to order maximum sentences. Prison terms also are frequently served concurrently, meaning the clock is running on multiple sentences at the same time.
The judge also has discretion to suspend sentencing and instead place Kozma on probation, and/or order her to pay fines and restitution.
Kozma was a member of MSAA, a private nonprofit professional organization, while serving as the Warren County assessor for more than a decade, and was responsible for overseeing MSAA’s education fund from 2011 to 2020, according to the highway patrol. Kozma resigned from both positions in 2020 after taking an executive job with a Habitat For Humanity group in Florida.
The highway patrol alleged that while in charge of MSAA’s education fund, Kozma wrote 196 checks to herself. She reportedly claimed the checks were reimbursing MSAA-related expenses, but the highway patrol said Kozma’s bank and credit card records did not show any matching transactions related to her work. Investigators also claimed Kozma was using the MSAA account to make automated payments to Planet Fitness.
The 15 charges against Kozma specifically focused on 15 checks and withdrawals that she made from 2018 to 2020, ranging in value from $875 to $2,780, the highway patrol alleged. The total value of the transactions was over $23,000.
After the criminal allegations against Kozma were unveiled last year, Warren County Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus told The Record that the Missouri State Auditor’s Office had conducted a separate months-long review of Warren County’s financial records and found no mismanagement of government funds.