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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Six employees of the Kansas City public works department admitted they conspired over three years to collect about $58,000 in overtime pay they had not earned.

When the city receives calls about downed or damaged signs that are considered essential — such as stop signs or yield signs — public works employees are called to work overtime to repair or replace the signs.

Prosecutors said the defendants admitted they or their friends and relatives reported damaged signs on evenings or weekends in order to be called out to fix them. They then submitted time sheets and work orders indicating they fixed the signs, when they had not done so. Signs that were actually damaged often were not fixed until the next working day.

The conspiracy lasted from January 2013 to November 2016. An internal investigation found about 75 percent of callouts for damaged signs between Aug. 23, 2016 and Nov. 13, 2016, were fraudulent. City officials then alerted the FBI.

Prentis M. Rayford, 37, Eric McKamey, 47, and Edward Lee Ellingburg, 48, all of Kansas City, pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Co-defendants Paul Myers, 62, Kenneth Gethers, 34, and Julio Prospero, 49, all of Kansas City, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.

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