Osage Beach Aldermen president charged with felony election offense

Osage Beach Aldermen president Jeff Bethurem has been charged with a felony election offense for not disclosing a previous felony conviction. (City of Osage Beach).

Osage Beach Board of Alderman President Jeff Bethurem was charged with a class 1 felony election offense for knowingly making a false sworn statement and signing an affidavit when filing for candidacy in 2016.

When signing for candidacy, Bethurem signed an affidavit swearing he has no felony convictions.

According to City Administrator Jeana Woods, on September 24, Mayor John Olivarri received information that stated Bethurem had a felony conviction for writing bad checks in Kansas and under Missouri law should not be serving as an alderman.

Woods said the city turned it over to the prosecuting attorney.

"We felt obligated to turn that over to that level of government because that's the level of authority. The city doesn't have authority to question eligibility, " she said.

Olivarri requested an investigation into the allegations against Bethurem. Woods said under Missouri law a person with a felony conviction cannot be a candidate for elective public office.

On September 27, Olivarri and the city attorney met with Bethurem and discussed the information they received three days prior. Woods said Bethurem acknowledge the conviction and said he thought it had been expunged.

Currenly, Woods said the city attorney is researching various levels of vacancy.

"People are curious about their local government," she said. "The board of aldermen have a certain process that they may or may not go down, but we are aware of the charge."

Woods said the city has been fully cooperative with the courts regarding what happens next. She said the most important thing to the city is following the democratic process.

When asked if the city investigates elected officials once in office, Woods said they do not.

"It's not the city's responsibility or city's staff to vet who the people elect, the steps basically on election, it's at the county level to determine eligibility at that point," she said.

Woods said it's important to be transparent about the city government and she said the city will continue to be cooperative.

"It's an interesting predicament to be in," Woods said. "We've never been in this position before."

Bethurem was still on the board as of Friday, but Woods said there is currently no answer on what will happen to him next.

"There is some information that the board of aldermen as a whole will have to figure out," Woods said.

Woods said at no point the city didn't have any reason to believe Bethurem was breaking the law, until the information was presented to them.

According to online court records, Bethurem has multiple misdemeanors on his record including third-degree assault and second-degree property damage.

However, there is also another class D felony on his record in Missouri, for passing bad checks less than $500 in 2003.

Woods said the daily functions of the city will continue.

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