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Christian County assessor could face 80 years in prison

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Former Christian County Assessor Sandra Bryant-Littles pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud in which she didn't assess herself for personal property taxes. She could be subject to up to 80 years in federal prison without parole, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Both Sandra Bryant-Littles, 51, and her husband Lonnie Utah Littles, 62, of Clever, pleaded guilty to all charges against them in two separate but related cases. Lonnie Littles pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud regarding a false cattle theft claim.

Bryant-Littles and her husband owned Poco Cala Ranch and personal property under their names from Dec. 31, 2006, to Feb. 19, 2009.

For the years 2007 and 2008, Bryant-Littles admitted she submitted property tax bills which she knew understated the tax owed. She also failed to report personal property tax on a motorcycle, two tractors, three utility and flat-bed trailers, a horse trailer and an unknown number of cattle, the release said.

"As the elected Christian County assessor, Sandra Bryant-Littles was charged with the duty to honestly assess property owners for the value of their taxable personal property,” Phillips said in the release. “In pleading guilty, she admits she lied on her own assessment forms in order to defraud the taxpayers and voters of Christian County."

Bryant-Littles' fraud was discovered when officers were investigating the false cattle theft claim by her husband and reviewed their personal property assessment forms, only to find that no cattle were listed. Further investigation revealed the other omissions.

Bryant-Littles was arrested at her county office Oct. 15, 2009, the release said.

In addition to possible federal prison time, Bryant-Littles could face a fine of up to $1 million. Her husband could be sentenced to up to 130 years in federal prison without parole, with a fine of up to $3.5 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after completion of pre-sentence investigations by the U.S. Probation Office, the release said.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich and was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Criminal Investigative Unit, Missouri State Highway Patrol Rural Crimes Unit and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

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