Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Taff sentenced to 15 months

February 15, 2006

A long and strange saga came to an end Monday when Adam Taff, former Kansas congressional candidate, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

Taff pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and converting campaign funds to his personal use in violation of federal law in November after he and co-defendant John D. Myers, 51, Leawood, were charged last summer. Myers helped Taff use campaign funds to make a false down payment to buy a home Myers owned in Lake Quivira.


"By his unlawful use of campaign funds, Mr. Taff violated his duty as a candidate for public office to protect and preserve the public's trust and faith in our system of representative government," U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said in a released statement.

Myers pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to five months in prison and a $50,000 fine. Both men were sentenced Monday during a hearing before U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum in Kansas City, Kan.

In his plea, Taff admitted that in November 2003, while he was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, his campaign had two accounts at Metcalf Bank in Overland Park. At the same time, Taff was an employee of an Overland Park mortgage company of which Myers was the founder and chairman.

In November 2003, Taff agreed to purchase Myers' house at 177 Hillcrest West in Lake Quivira and signed a contract to buy the house for $1.2 million. In January 2004, Taff signed a loan application with NovaStar Home Mortgage, Inc., stating that among his two campaign bank accounts, with balances of $61,746 and $250,000, were his personal assets. The loan application also falsely stated that Taff's monthly income was more than double his actual income.

Taff withdrew funds from the two campaign accounts to create a $300,000 bank check made payable to Myers. Taff and Myers met with a closing agent at a title company in Overland Park and falsely represented that the check was a down payment for the house.

With the approval of both men, the closing agent altered a copy of the $300,000 check to make it appear payable to the title company. The closing agent then prepared two settlement statements. One falsely stated Taff had made a $300,000 payment to Myers. The other falsely stated for NovaStar's records that Taff had paid the title company $300,000 for distribution to Myers.

The closing agent used a fax machine in her office to send a copy of the altered check and the settlement statement containing false information to NovaStar. NovaStar then funded the remaining $900,000 of the purchase price of the house based on those false representations.

Taff then took back the $300,000 check and returned the funds to his campaign accounts. Because he previously had loaned his campaign $125,000, he is considered to have converted the remaining $175,000 to his personal use.

Melgren commended the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon Patton, who prosecuted the case.

Taff grew up in Shawnee and is a 1983 Shawnee Mission Northwest High School graduate. He is a former Navy pilot, and in 2002 and 2004, he unsuccessfully sought to replace U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan. Taff narrowly missed unseating Moore in 2002, coming the closest of any GOP challenger to the popular former county prosecutor. In 2004, Taff lost a close race in the Republican primary to Kris Kobach, a law professor.

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