Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2003

Suspended Topeka mayor faces more allegations, no new charges

November 2, 2003


— The prosecutor trying to oust suspended Mayor Butch Felker has alleged even more criminal acts in a court filing but stopped short of charging Felker with any additional crimes.

Felker already is accused of falsifying a campaign finance report from his 2001 mayoral campaign to hide questionable donation amounts and the identities of some contributors.

On Friday, Shawnee County Dist. Atty. Robert Hecht filed a 51-page court document that he hoped would strengthen his efforts to remove Felker.

In the filing, Hecht alleges that Felker committed perjury during his suspension hearing in October and aided in the theft of tax money from the Topeka Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2001.

Other allegations included forgery, tampering with a public record, misuse of public funds and making false information and criminal violations of the campaign finance act, including giving or receiving an excessive campaign contribution.

Hecht said Felker aided and abetted TCVB personnel in felony theft and was engaged in a conspiracy to commit a crime.

District Judge Eric Rosen suspended Felker on Oct. 17, noting in his ruling that a former TCVB director and several of its employees "conspired and engaged in the theft of TCVB funds," including cash from one theft that was given directly to Felker, then was deposited into his campaign account.

In a telephone call from his home Friday night, Felker said he hadn't seen a copy of Hecht's filing and could not comment on it.

His attorney, Michael Francis, said that what Hecht characterized as perjury was simply the difference between what Felker testified to and what other witnesses said.

Francis contends Hecht's filing on Friday repeated three allegations that Rosen had dismissed on Oct. 17. Those allegations were that Felker misused public funds by getting a $5,000 cash advance with his city-issued credit card for the Kansas International Museum; granted power of attorney to Betty Simecka, president of Cultural Exhibits and Events, without Topeka City Council approval; and paid former chief administrative officer John Arnold $113,000 in salary and benefits as a severance agreement without council approval.

On Friday, Hecht alleged that Felker presented a false claim or permitted payment of a false claim in Arnold's severance agreement; committed a financial impropriety by making the $5,000 cash advance to KIM; and committed official misconduct by issuing the power of attorney to Simecka.

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