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Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wittig free on bond pending appeal of sentence

February 13, 2007

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— David Wittig, the former top executive of Westar Energy Inc., was released from prison Monday after serving nearly 13 months in prison.

Wittig was released from the federal detention center in Leavenworth about 2 p.m. and was greeted by his wife, Beth, and Jeff Morris, one of his attorneys.

Wittig, the former chairman, president and chief executive of Westar, was convicted in July 2003 of engaging in a loan transaction with a Topeka banker and helping to conceal the loan from banking regulators.

Wittig had been incarcerated in a minimum security prison in Sandstone, Minn., until last month, when he was transported to Topeka for his third sentencing in the bank fraud case. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sentenced him to two years.

On Thursday, Robinson granted Wittig's request to be released on bond pending his appeal of that sentence.

Although Robinson granted Wittig bond last week, he could not be released until the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on his request for bond in another case, in which Wittig was convicted in September 2005 of looting Westar.

Robinson sentenced him to 18 years in prison in that case.

On Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver granted that motion.

Wittig's release may be only temporary if the appeals court affirms the two-year sentence in the bank case, or prosecutors decide to put Wittig on trial again for some of the crimes in the Westar case.

Comments

purplesage 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't see how large the bond is. How much does it take to get out of prison after you nearly destroy the company you were paid multiple millions of dollars to lead? And raise everyone's electric bills in the service area? It is hard to accept that people do time for a few dollars of bad checks when a guy like this walks.

terrapin2 7 years, 10 months ago

Westar is not destroyed. It is still a thriving company making money for its shareholders. During Mr. Wittig's time at Westar the rates were NEVER raised. Look it up. He is paying 1 million dollars for the bank fraud case. A case in which no one lost even one penny, in fact the bank made a profit. How you call being dragged through the mud for 5 years, serving 13 months in prison away from your wife and children on a sentence that the appellate court has said TWICE should only be 0-6 months, being unemployable, unable to vote etc..."walking" boggles the mind. The court also overturned the convictions in the Westar case because they had a very hard time finding that he and Mr. Lake had done anything illegal. This is an example of how the system should work. You may not agree with executive compensation being what it is, but it is not illegal.

terrapin2 7 years, 10 months ago

Of course the average person thinks he's a crook because the only information you have is what you read in the paper. If you actually read the details/transcripts of the case and had ALL the facts I'm confident that your opinion would change, but the average person doesn't take the time to do the research necessary to have an informed opinion. I do happen to know that Mr. Wittig and his family are very good people. Is it so hard to believe that someone that makes a lot of money can also be a good person? I don't blame you for your opinion because for 5 years you have read only nasty things about Mr. Wittig. That is precisely why I am trying to offer the alternate ( and true) viewpoint.

ilovelucy 7 years, 10 months ago

A good person spending millions of dollars on that ostentatious mansion in Topeka? I know someone who worked for him. I heard horror stories. I don't believe that my friend lies. Get real. Me thinks you must be buddies with the infamous robber baron. It's a travesty that he was released.

KsGirl 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you ilovelucy. I've heard horror stories from employees as well. These stories were told way before the publicity. Terrapin: Wittig had no time for us "average" people before he was in trouble, why should we give him our time now??

Paul Geisler 7 years, 10 months ago

ilovelucy

Why can't a good person live in a mansion? Are you suggesting that all rich people are bad? C'mon! The truth is good people can be successful and make a lot of money. And I agree with Terrapin2 that Mr Wittig is a good person. Apparently everyone has forgotten about the meals-on-wheels that the Wittigs delivered with their two boys. Or the minority-owned businesses that Mr Wittig steered Westar business to. Or the athletic scholarships that they established at KU. Or the time & money they donated to Topeka Collegiate where their boys went to school. Or Mrs Wittig's work with the Topeka Performing Arts Center, etc, etc, etc.

Mr Wittig (and his wife) made millions on Wall Street before returning to Kansas, so let's stop this ridiculous notion that Westar paid for the renovations to the mansion. Wittig may have used Westar stock as collateral to fund the renovations, but it was all paid back with interest. They wanted to have their dream house, and they had the means to do it. Isn't that the American way?

And let's consider the alternative? The Landon House could still be a rotting eye-sore with no one living in it, and a crumbling foundation, leaky roof, etc. Nancy Kassebaum had no intentions of spending the kind of money necessary to renovate that house, which needed all new plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC, etc. I even overheard someone from the Topeka Historic Society comment that the city could never have afforded to purchase the Landon House when the Wittigs did because the property taxes alone would have been too costly for the City to cover, not to mention the cost to maintain the place. Furthermore, by renovating the Landon House to the extent that they did the Wittigs pumped some serious cash into the local economy, and continue to do so to this day. They put money in your buddy's wallet, right?

ilovelucy & KsGirl: What kind of horror stories? Did they demand to have the job done right? OMG! If you were paying top-dollar I imagine you would demand the best work too. Why don't you ask your buddies to share some examples of how working for the Wittigs was so bad?

The 'average person' in Topeka never gave Wittig the benefit of the doubt from day one because he came to Topeka from Wall Street, rapidly ascended to the top of Westar, and purchased one of the biggest houses in Topeka. Oh yeah, and he was 'brash', God forbid!
I grew up in T-town and I know that there are a lot of disgruntled blue-collar workers who have few opportunities to advance. So even if everything had been hunky-dory at Westar during Wittig's tenure, most Topekans would still have hated him because he was paid millions of dollars, lived in the renovated Landon House, and drove a Ferrari, etc. It's a classic clash of cultures. The have-a-lots and the have-littles.

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