Kansas City Businesswoman Facing Criminal Charges Found Dead in Fort Lauderdale

Karen Pletz, the former president and CEO of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was found dead in a Fort Lauderdale condo this morning, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Travis Mandell.

Pletz, 64, was indicted in March on 24 charges after allegedly embezzling more than $1.5 million from the university.

Mandell says Pletz's body is currently at the Medical Examiner's Office but says there seems to be "no indication of foul play" after a preliminary investigation.

The charges against her related to the embezzlement scheme included stealing from the university, fudging her tax returns, and laundering money, according to the FBI's field office in Kansas City.

"The federal indictment describes a scheme in which Pletz embezzled from KCUMB by wrongfully receiving $1,525,791 in payments from the osteopathic medicine and life sciences school," according to the FBI. "The federal indictment charges Pletz with 16 counts of stealing from the university, one count of attempting to interfere with the administration of internal revenue, three counts of making false statements on tax returns, and four counts of money laundering."

Aside from allegedly paying herself an extra $1.4 million between 2002 and 2009, the feds say she also obtained around $50,000 from the university in travel and entertainment reimbursements as well as $65,000 in charitable reimbursements.

Part of that money for travel reimbursements was a trip to the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort in Fort Lauderdale to visit her parents in 2007, according to the FBI, and local news reports state that her parents lived in Fort Lauderdale.

Pletz's Lexus convertible, bank assets, and condo were all seized as forfeitures.

She was forced out of the university in December 2009, when the allegations started rolling in.

Mandell says that her death is still under investigation and that the police department is waiting for the results from the Medical Examiner's Office.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley