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Former Nixa street superintendent pleads guilty to fraud

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The former street superintendent for the city of Nixa pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to fraud and money laundering conspiracies, mail fraud and theft connected to a scheme that defrauded the city of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

Larry W. Covington, 50, of Ash Grove, admitted that he and co-defendant David W. Griggs of Willard participated in the conspiracy between October 2004 and February 2009.

Covington worked for the city from March 2000 through February 2009 and was promoted to superintendent of the street department in May 2004, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Griggs was promoted to lead utility worker in August 2004.

According to the release, the two men used two fictitious businesses established by Griggs, Airborne Specialist and Tri-State Supply, to submit 122 invoices to the city for more than $273,000 in goods and services that were never provided to the street department.

Covington admitted preparing purchase orders for street department supplies invoiced by the two fictitious businesses and falsely acknowledging receiving the items. When the city mailed checks payable to the businesses, they were deposited into business bank accounts and Covington and Griggs split the proceeds, according to the release.

Covington also admitted to creating a third fictitious company, Ward & Spooner, which he used for a similar scheme that netted more than $482,000.

By pleading guilty, Covington agreed to forfeit $756,010 in proceeds from the offenses, along with a 1999 Dutchman travel trailer, a 2004 Bombadier Outlander 400, a 2005 flatbed trailer, a 2005 trailer and three guns. He also forfeits all benefits held by the Missouri Local Area Government Employees Retirement System, including a lump sum of more than $58,000.

Griggs pleaded guilty in August 2009 to his part in the schemes.

In a related case, Covington's wife, Paula K. Covington, pleaded guilty earlier this year to money laundering by using the proceeds of the scheme to purchase registered dogs and a dog trailer, which were then sold to eventually post her husband's bond.

Larry Covington faces up to 70 years in federal prison without parole plus fines and restitution. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.[[In-content Ad]]

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