A former Junction City commissioner formally pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he accepted payments and gifts from a Lawrence developer who had been seeking the city’s permission to develop hundreds of homes to accommodate troops and families from nearby Fort Riley.
Michael “Mick” Wunder entered his mandatory plea Tuesday afternoon before Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius in U.S. District Court in Topeka.
Wunder is charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and structuring financial transactions to evade regulatory requirements. He also faces five counts of unlawfully using his position as a commissioner to obtain money and other properties, and one count of perjury for allegedly lying about his role in the scheme while questioned by a grand jury.
If convicted of bank fraud or conspiracy, Wunder would face up to 30 years in prison. Convictions on the other charges also carry potential prison sentences.
Wunder was indicted by a grand jury June 10, a document that was unsealed July 1 — a day after Lawrence developer David Ray Freeman pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Freeman’s plea agreement includes a pledge that he would provide information and testify against others who might have been involved in the scheme.
As part of his guilty plea, Freeman admitted to directing three payments totaling $19,000 to Wunder and treating him to dinner, drinks, limo service and a hotel stay on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo. Freeman had bragged to associates that he had Wunder “in his pocket.”
Freeman also acknowledged that his company, Big D Development and Construction, had secured permission from Junction City to develop subdivisions in deals that were worth a combined $12 million for Big D.
Michael Francis, Wunder’s attorney, declined to comment on the charges or the circumstances surrounding them.
Arguments on motions are set for Aug. 28, at which time a trial date would be set.