Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2004

Ex-Trego County sheriff convicted

May 20, 2004

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— Former Trego County Sheriff Curtis Bender, who resigned last year after a Kansas Bureau Investigation probe into his activities became public, was convicted Wednesday on several federal drug and gun charges.

Bender, 37, of Lawrence, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, two counts of distributing cocaine, one count of attempting to distribute cocaine and one count of unlawfully possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, said U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren.

A month before resigning as Trego County sheriff in April 2003, Bender conspired to distribute cocaine in Trego and Ellis counties, Melgren said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, acting on a tip that Bender was attempting to sell cocaine, set up controlled buys of cocaine through an undercover officer. The gun charge came because Bender possessed a handgun during the attempted sale.

The cocaine was found by the buyer of a 1994 Dodge Intrepid that had been sold at a sheriff's sale. The cocaine was subsequently turned over to Bender for destruction. Instead, Bender kept it and distributed or attempted to distribute it, Melgren said.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 13.

Co-defendant Steven C. Babcock, 29, of Logan, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine. His sentencing was set for July 27.

Co-defendant Frank H. Casto, 34, of Quinter, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of distributing cocaine and one count of attempting to distribute. His sentencing also was set for July 27.

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