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Archive for Friday, June 20, 2003

Former court worker agrees to diversion in double-billing case

June 20, 2003

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— A former chief court administrator for Sedgwick County accused of double-billing the county and state for travel expenses has agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program.

If Louis Hentzen keeps his record clean for a year, 11 misdemeanor charges of official misconduct will be dismissed and his record cleared, according to court documents.

His lawyer said the agreement was not an admission of guilt.

"We've always contended that he had no criminal intent and that this is a record-keeping mistake," said his lawyer, Dan Monnat.

Hentzen also must pay $3,185 in restitution to the county, perform 100 hours of community service and attend a theft counseling program.

Charges were filed against Hentzen on Nov. 21.

Dist. Atty. Nola Foulston opened the investigation shortly after a Wichita Eagle report found that taxpayers paid twice for Hentzen's meals on 21 occasions in 2001 and 2002.

The meal charges were part of about $20,000 in taxpayer-paid expenses that Hentzen ran up while traveling on behalf of the courts or court-related professional associations.

Prosecutor Ann Swegle said the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office was prepared to take Hentzen to trial. But she said his application for diversion was approved because he had no prior criminal record and had the ability to pay restitution.

After the Eagle article was published, Hentzen wrote the county a check for $1,800 and resigned his $71,000-a-year job. The county never cashed the check because of the ongoing criminal prosecution.

Swegle said Hentzen was paying restitution for the 11 incidents cited in the criminal counts as well as 10 earlier incidents that couldn't be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

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