Osage Beach Alderman charged with felony election offense

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- Osage Beach Board of Aldermen President Jeff Bethurem has been charged with a felony election offense by the Camden County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

"Back in September, we, the mayor was presented with information, and we felt obligated to turn it over to that level of government," said Osage Beach City Administrator Jeana Woods.

The information turned over was related to Board of Aldermen President Jeff Bethurem's felony conviction in Kansas for writing bad checks. Under state law, one cannot serve in elected office if found guilty or pleading guilty to a felony.

In those documents given to the prosecutor, the city said Bethurem acknowledged the felony for writing bad checks in Kansas, but argued the charge had been expunged.

According to a probable cause document filed Thursday, investigators found other charges - all misdemeanors in the State of Missouri. Some of those charges include a third degree assault and second degree property damage both in Boone County in 2001, passing a bad check in Greene County in 1988, and passing bad checks in Columbia in 2003.

With this information, investigators believed there was enough evidence that Bethurem submitted a false sworn statement when he signed his Declaration of Candidacy when he filed to run for office in December 2016.

A section of that form reads in part, "I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that: I declare that I have not been convicted of or found guilty or plead guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under federal law or the laws of this state, or another state."

With that, Bethurem has been charged with violating state statute 115.405.

But, another statute says "Sections 115.307 to 115.405 shall not apply to candidates for special district offices; township offices in township organization counties; or city, town, and village offices."

The city of Osage Beach says there are a lot of questions they still need to find answers to regarding Bethurem's case.

"It's an interesting predicament to be in and I know our city attorney is researching that because we've never been in this position before," Woods said. "Our job right now is trying to preserve that process, preserve our democratic process. At this time, things that have been voted on in the past and decisions that were made were made through the dully elected officials at that time, and we still have answers we're seeking on that as well."

Bethurem is still an active member of the board.

His attorney declined to go on camera or do a recorded phone interview, but said he believes these charges wont hold up in court, and looks forward to proving Bethurem's innocence.