A judge has given the city of Center until the end of November to file legal briefs to intervene in a case that could place a lien on the property of a former city clerk accused of embezzling city funds.
The lawyer for the former Center alderman who filed a lien against the home of former city clerk and her husband said Tuesday morning that his client will likely drop his suit if a judge allows the city to enter the case.
In August, former alderman Aaron Jackson, a frequent critic of city government on social media, who failed in his run in the April 2018 Municipal Election to unseat incumbent Center Mayor Dennis McMillen, filed a petition to attach a lien against profits from the sale of a home owned by for clerk Tracey Ray and her husband, Center Police Chief David Ray. The lien was seen as one way to recoup some of the money the city of Center may have lost through alleged embezzling by the former clerk.
Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd of the 10th Circuit Court gave Center officials until the end of November to prepare a legal brief outlining the city's case to intervene in the action filed by Jackson.
Mark Wassinger, an attorney for David Ray, petitioned to have Jackson's filing dismissed, saying he has no legal standing to sue on behalf of the city. Tracy Ray does not yet have legal representation according to court records.
“I have case law that would indicate Mr. Jackson does have standing,” James Lemon, Jackon's attorney, said after the hearing. “But as we said in court…if the city is accepted to intervene in the case, Mr. Jackson would likely withdraw … his concerns are the taxpayers of Center, not personal gain. He did this because he did not see anyone taking action.”
Tracy Ray was fired as city clerk on July 3 after the city discovered that mandated reports had not been filed with the state of Missouri. The city faces fines of more than $146,000 for failing to file annual financial reports since 2015. Since her firing, officials have discovered more than $246,000 in questionable credit card and insurance payments made from the city's bank account.
On July 2, the Ralls County Sheriff's Department alleges that Tracey Ray exchanged gunshots with deputies outside her home in New London. Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie and Chief Deputy Ronald Haught Jr. were wounded during the confrontation while Ray was reportedly shot and air-lifted to a St. Louis hospital, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway's office has been conducting an audit of Center in conjunction with the FBI, according to law enforcement officials, while the Missouri attorney general has taken over the investigation into the alleged shootings of Dinwiddie and Haught.
Separately, David Ray filed for divorce against Tracy Ray in Audrain County on Sept. 27. On Nov. 13, a hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. in the Audrain County Courthouse in Mexico to hear a motion filed by Tracy Ray seeking to get a restraining order against David Ray to prevent him from disposing of marital assets, and a separate motion asking that the court order him to transfer martial assets to Tracy Ray for the purpose of raising money to “repay marital debts.”