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Audit: Kansas Bioscience Authority erased evidence of misused funds

By Anne Meyer

KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

3:41 PM PST, January 24, 2012

(WICHITA, Kan.)

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An audit into the Kansas Bioscience Authority shows misuse of taxpayer funds, and a cover-up of evidence.

Since the KBA was created in 2004, lawmakers have given the agency more than a half billion dollars to bring bioscience companies to Kansas and create jobs.

Now it former KBA President Tom Thornton is accused of serious allegations, that could result in criminal charges.

According to an audit; the KBA made hundreds of payments without contracts, which is against the agency's policy. Some of those contracts were given to Thornton's friends

Thornton also used agency funds to pay for a trip to Ohio for a job interview at the Cleveland Clinic. He now works for that company.

Two days after the audit started in April, Thornton resigned from the KBA. That's when auditors say he began deleting files from his work laptop and the agency's hard drive, even though he knew the audit was underway.

"Its very scandalous, its very disconcerning," said State Senator Susan Wagle. "(at)a time when people are struggling with jobs and personal incomes, its very upsetting to hear about tax payer dollars being squandered."

Wagle says all state money to the KBA has been frozen while lawmakers investigate the agency.

Thornton has paid back the $4500 he used for the Ohio trip. He could face criminal charges, since it is against the law to delete files once an audit supoena is issued. The case is now in the hands of the Johnson County District Attorney.

KWCH did try to contact Tom Thornton in Ohio, however our calls were not returned.