Archive for Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Former Eldridge owner arrested

Rob Phillips charged with battery on sheriff’s officer

January 25, 2005


A local businessman and tourism booster who formerly owned the Eldridge Hotel was charged Monday with battering a Douglas County Sheriff's officer.

Robert W. Phillips, 60, 1431 N. 1900 Road, was booked into jail at 3:24 a.m. Monday and was charged that afternoon in Douglas County District Court with one count of misdemeanor battery on a law-enforcement officer.

Law-enforcement officials and prosecutors aren't saying what happened, but Phillips told a judge Monday he was in his home and wasn't doing anything wrong before his encounter with the officers.

"I had been drinking in my home," he said. "My faculties were impaired."

District Court Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel allowed Phillips to be released from jail without posting money for bond. She noted that he'd lived in the community 25 years and did not have a criminal record.

According to dispatch records, police were called to Phillips' address about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in reference to a possible suicide attempt. Officers initially arrested Phillips on suspicion of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, but prosecutors filed the lesser charge instead.

The sheriff's office did not release details Monday about what happened, instead referring questions to Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's office. Branson did not return a call seeking comment.

Phillips also had arrest warrants for failure to appear in two municipal court cases: One involved unpaid parking tickets and the other a zoning-violation complaint.

City prosecutor Jerry Little said he filed the zoning case in September after Phillips began a remodeling project inside the Eldridge, 701 Mass., without having the proper building permits.

Phillips was general manager and majority owner of the landmark downtown hotel before it was sold at a bankruptcy auction in October.

He also is owner of Free State Farm and Victorian Veranda Country Inn, 1431 N. 1900 Road.

One of Phillips' family members who answered the phone at the inn Monday declined comment about the arrest. Phillips did not return a phone message left at the inn.

Phillips also is known for his attempts to boost tourism related to Kansas' Wild West heritage and for sponsoring the annual Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade.

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