The former chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party pleaded guilty to wire fraud Friday after admitting that he spent campaign cash on lavish personal trips.
The Kansas City Star reported that Mike Sanders entered a guilty plea for the felony corruption charge, along with his chief of staff, Calvin Williford, who pleaded guilty to the same charge in a separate hearing that took place on the same day.
Williford testified that he and Sanders created a scheme where a printing company would create phone invoices and give the money to those who worked on Sanders’ campaign so the Missouri Ethics Commission would not flag the money transfers.
Sanders admitted to using a kickback scheme through an old high school friend to convert $62,000 in campaign funds to use for personal expenses.
The friend, Steve Hill, told the Star that Sanders paid him for campaign work he never did, and he would keep ten percent of the money while Sanders took the rest for “political purposes.”
Authorities found over the course of their investigation that the money did not go to a political fund.
Investigators say that Sanders used $4,550 of kickback money from Hill in 2012 to pay his 2010 income taxes. He admitted that he used tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal trips to California wine country and Las Vegas.
Sanders, a former prosecutor who served as the Missouri Democratic Party chair from 2010 to 2013, stopped cutting the checks after Hill informed him that the FBI was conducting an investigation.
Williford, and two others, also had ties to the kickback scheme.
Williford and Sanders could face up to five years behind bars and up to $250,000 in fines upon sentencing.