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Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Prosecutor faces charges of extortion from gentlemen’s club for legal favors

September 20, 2007

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— Cherokee County Attorney Michael L. Goodrich was charged Wednesday with extorting money from an adult club in Galena in exchange for legal favors, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Goodrich, 47, of Baxter Springs, was charged with two counts of extortion, one count of wire fraud and one count of intimidating a witness. Co-defendant Timothy J. Schooley, 29, also was charged with one count of extortion.

Defense attorney Kurt Kerns, who is representing Goodrich, said he had not yet discussed with his client whether he would try to continue to serve as Cherokee County attorney or take a leave of absence until the case is resolved.

"Michael looks forward to demonstrating he is not guilty of any crime, and looks forward to aggressively defending these accusations," Kerns said.

Goodrich could not be reached at the Cherokee County attorney's office in Columbus, and his home phone number is unlisted.

Schooley's defense attorney, Sam Marsh, said he was not in a position to make any comments at this point on behalf of his client.

According to the indictment, Goodrich received money and favors from Sensations Gentleman's Club owner Hai Ching Ying and club manager Tom Dekeyser at various times between Jan. 1, 2005, and September 2007.

Those allegations claim Goodrich was given club money to spend while he was in the club, Kerns said, adding that the issue is whether that constitutes a federal offense and whether it even happened.

No one answered the phone at the club, and neither the owner nor the manager had listed phone numbers.

U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said Goodrich also is accused of trying to intimidate Assistant County Attorney Garth Adams into lying to FBI agents.

"The accusation is he tried to have a conversation with an assistant about what his legal rights were in interviewing with the FBI," Kerns said. "The government is trying to construe that was an effort to obstruct an investigation as opposed to advising someone about what their rights are."

Schooley allegedly approached Jason Carsley, an assistant manager, for money to be used to give to waitresses and dancers at the club. According to the U.S. attorney's office, Carsley obtained permission from the owner or manager and gave club money to Goodrich.

The indictment also alleges that Dekeyser asked Goodrich for help handling a traffic ticket he got March 29. Goodrich dismissed the ticket June 4 without Dekeyser paying any fines or costs, the indictment says.

"That is essentially an accusation he dismissed a traffic ticket as a favor to a business owner," Kerns said. "Based on my own experience, traffic tickets get dismissed right and left all across the land."

Rumors about the allegations against Goodrich have swirled in this southeast Kansas county since a special prosecutor was appointed this summer in 10 cases, reportedly because Goodrich had a conflict of interest in all of them.

But Kerns said those cases were unrelated to the federal indictment, involving a conflict of interest because the local defense attorney in those criminal cases also had represented Goodrich on some business matters.

If convicted, Goodrich faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the extortion and wire fraud charges, and up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the intimidation charge, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

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