WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Two former executives for Saint Francis Ministries in Salina have been indicted by a Grand Jury of allegedly defrauding the nonprofit.

Court documents show Robert Nelson Smith, who Saint Francis Ministries says is the former CEO and president, “conspired and engaged in a scheme to defraud Saint Francis Ministries (“SFM”) of money and property,” along with a second defendant, William Byrd Whymark. Court documents list Whymark as the CEO of WMK Research, Inc. and SFM says he previously served as Chief Information Officer.

Smith and has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, fifteen counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.

Whymark has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, and three counts of money laundering.

The federal court filings say Smith and Whymark defrauded SFM by “the submission and approval of materially false invoices to SFM resulting in payments to Defendant Whymark totaling over $10 million.” It also claims Smith used Saint Francis credit cards for personal expenses, causing Saint Francis to improperly pay for those expenses.

The scheme allegedly began in Jan. 2018 and continued until July 2021.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says around February 2018, the Saint Francis Ministries Board agreed to improve its IT systems, hardware, and software programs. The court filings called this “The SFM Project.”

Roughly a month prior, in Jan. 2018, Saint Francis and Whymark entered into a contract for Whymark to work on the project. Smith and Whymark were signatories, according to the documents.

The DOJ says there was no competitive bid for the project, and the “SFM Board of Directors’ meeting minutes for 2018 did not reflect any record of Smith seeking authorization or informing the board of his decision to award the SFM Project to WMK.”

Court filings say Smith “approved all WMK invoices even when the dollar amount exceeded his approval authority.” Allegedly, he did not bring the invoices to the attention of the board for their approval, which is required by SFM policy.

The DOJ says the invoices were fraudulently inflated by approximately $4.7 million. During the course of the contract, Whymark submitted invoices to Saint Francis, resulting in 65 payments to WMK totaling approximately $10.7 million.

Additionally, the DOJ says Smith failed to report his personal purchases on Saint Francis corporate credit cards and failed to reimburse Saint Francis for personal purchases. These purchases included:

  • Cash withdrawals
  • Clothing and jewelry
  • Personal travel expenses

Saint Francis Ministries said in a statement to KSN it will “continue to work transparently and collaboratively with federal authorities as part of the investigative process. We appreciate the diligence exhibited in the pursuit of justice by all parties.”

The DOJ has requested a trial be held in Topeka.

Saint Francis Ministries’ work encompasses foster care, therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation/intensive in-home services, residential care, and community outreach services.

The SFM website says the organization serves more than 11,000 individuals through child and family welfare services in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Arkansas. It also provides supervised living and employment services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Mississippi.