Ex-KU Med Center Official Pleads Guilty To Tax And Embezzlement Charges

Michael Ahlers was the administrator of the med centerโ€™s occupational therapy education department from around 2001 to 2015.

By Dan Margolies – Kansas News Service

A former administrator at the University of Kansas Medical Center pleaded guilty on Tuesday to bank fraud and tax evasion after he was accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from KU.

Michael Ahlers faces up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud count and three years on the tax evasion count, although heโ€™s likely to serve only a fraction of those sentences in exchange for pleading guilty.

Ahlers was the administrator of the med centerโ€™s occupational therapy education department from around 2001 to 2015. While his plea agreement suggests he began embezzling funds shortly after he started working there, he was charged with embezzling funds only from 2009 to 2015 based on available bank records.

Neither Ahlers nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Ahlers diverted the money from a KUMC Credit Union into which KUMC employees contributed funds for office parties, sympathy flowers and other office functions, according to his plea agreement. Unbeknownst to KU, however, Ahlers began depositing student fees and other funds into the account and then withdrawing them in the form of cash and cashierโ€™s checks payable to himself, his business or his relatives.

The scheme came to light after Ahlers left KU to take another job. A student who had been paid twice contacted Ahlers’ successor, who discovered a credit union account Ahlers had opened before leaving KU. A subsequent internal audit revealed the embezzlement.

Ahlers most recently was employed as a revenue cycle analyst at Cerner Corp., according to his LinkedIn profile. The profile has since been deleted.

Ahlers and his wife also owned and operated a retail liquor store in Shawnee, Kansas, called Smooth Liquor.

Bankruptcy court records indicate Ahlers filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2019 and received a discharge of his debts later that year.

On his bankruptcy petition, he listed debts of more than $1 million, including nearly $456,000 in delinquent federal and state taxes.

As part of his plea, Ahlers has agreed to reimburse KU at least $500,000 and pay the IRS $124,215.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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