Archive for Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Former Junction City mayor admits on tape that he accepted money from Lawrence developer

Ex-Junction City leader accused of helping developer secure housing contracts

September 29, 2009, 10:08 a.m. Updated September 29, 2009, 11:47 a.m.

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— The trial of a former Junction City mayor charged with taking bribes got under way with prosecutors playing a tape in which Michael “Mick” Wunder admits taking $19,000 from a developer.

In a recorded conversation played Monday in court, Wunder told Lawrence attorney and developer Brennan Fagan that he took payments from David Freeman not as a bribe to influence a Junction City housing project, but to cover his wife’s mounting medical bills.

The case, which is being heard in U.S. District Court in Topeka, continued Tuesday.

Prosecutors played the tape as part of their case to show that Wunder abused his power for personal gain. Fagan was aware that investigators were recording the telephone call, but Wunder’s attorney, Michael Francis, said his client only needed money to pay for bills as his wife started losing her vision and that Wunder gave Freeman sports collectibles in return.

“I really don’t see the seriousness to all of this,” Wunder said in the conversation with Fagan. “I wasn’t just going to accept his money.”

Freeman has pleaded guilty to giving Wunder money in hopes of winning the right to develop new subdivisions in Junction City. The projects, worth $12 million, were sought as the community braced for an influx of soldiers and families from nearby Fort Riley.

Freeman, also of Lawrence, is expected to testify in the trial and is awaiting sentencing.

Wunder accepted the money in separate meetings from May 1, 2006, through March 2007. He said on the recording that he didn’t make a lot of money selling advertising for a cable company and part-time at a convenience store.

Prosecutors contend the payments to Wunder represent “an abuse of public trust” because they helped Freeman’s Big D Developments secure contracts with city government. Prosecutors said the developer had no experience building a project of such a magnitude and alleged that Freeman also helped another Lawrence company land a bid to renovate a Junction City opera house.

Comments

John Hamm 8 years ago

Okay so he "helped another Lawrence company land a bid" is which company? Who, what, when?

justanotherday 8 years ago

The other company is First Management.

BrianR 8 years ago

So, this crime would've been unnecessary in the mind of Mr. Wunder if he'd had universal health care?

DrMoody 8 years ago

Huh, could have sworn I was going to see Doug Compton in this article.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years ago

It seems they have a defense. There was an exchange of money for property, correct? It wasn't just "gifted" to him.

ilovelucy 8 years ago

Golly Merrill, still dragging out that b.s. from a year ago? Or was it longer? You keep resung so many posts, I can't keep up. Yawwwwwn.

Phil Minkin 8 years ago

Unlike ilovelucy I don't read every post on every article, so I found merril's post enlighting, but not surprising. 2 of the best commissioners money can buy.

LTownBaby 8 years ago

Foodboy, how do you think Obama was elected? $$$ and a great campaign strategist!

unknown2u 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

unknown2u 8 years ago

where does Doug Compton an FM get mentioned in all this?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years ago

Well, the issue here is "what was sold"? Did he sell a used Kleneex once blown on by George Brett for $19,000; or a genuine item(s) worth $19,000?

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

the mayor of Junction city has to have a full time ad job & a part time convenience store job on top of being mayor? holy hell, no wonder politicians go corrupt.

somebodynew 8 years ago

For those of you wondering about the "other company" the CJ online has an updated story from afternoon witnesses that names the names and what they "allegedly" got out of this. Interesting stuff........

Mike Blur 8 years ago

The hot chicks working for Compton would have little problem finding a better paying job elsewhere, either in town or in the KC/Top City metro. I would shed no tears for the demise of First Management, although to my chagrin, they are probably going nowhere anytime soon.

drake 8 years ago

So from the CJ online story it shows Larry Sinks as a partner. Is this the same Larry Sinks that owns Joe College?

Tim Quest 8 years ago

Class resentment - is there a single LJW article where it doesn't show up in the comments?

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

No there isn't. This is something that happens all the time. Who cares except those who are green with envy that they don't have the capitol others do.

mudd 8 years ago

You know what's funny? Big D Construction invoiced First Management for 15,000 for fixing the concrete work at Overland Point because Tri County botched the work. That is the check that was cashed. Just because Freeman had paid Wunder with that money, doesn't mean Compton funded it. That is like saying somebody owed me baby sitting money and I used it to buy drugs. Doesn't mean they gave me the money for drugs, just that they owed me the money and I used it for something illegal. Freeman is trying to push the burden on someone else so his punishment isn't as harsh. The prosecution left that out, and since Compton is not on trial he can't defend.

cowboy 8 years ago

Why do we have to go to the Cap Journal each day to get details on these stories. Is the LJW compromised from reporting the news ? Don't want Compton's name in the local paper. Why aren't FMI and Larry Sinks under charges ? Inquiring minds would like to know.

headdoctor 8 years ago

unknown2u (Anonymous) says… where does Doug Compton an FM get mentioned in all this?


The CJ story tells about the case but you can Google who the general contractor was for the opera house project and see what company it was.

headdoctor 8 years ago

cowboy (Anonymous) says… Why aren't FMI and Larry Sinks under charges ? Inquiring minds would like to know.


A bit early yet. Since this is a development they may still be investigating. I do have to wonder if the rats jumped from the sinking ship soon enough to save their butt. Freeman may think he has done himself a favor. I am thinking at this point he should be afraid, very afraid, and not from his own possible jail time.

brujablanco 8 years ago

artichokeheart (Anonymous) says…

No there isn't. This is something that happens all the time. Who cares except those who are green with envy that they don't have the capitol others do. ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// You mean like Marion? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

headdoctor 8 years ago

FarneyMac (Anonymous) says… Class resentment - is there a single LJW article where it doesn't show up in the comments?


artichokeheart (Anonymous) says… No there isn't. This is something that happens all the time. Who cares except those who are green with envy that they don't have the capitol others do.


Apparently you two do not understand what class envy and illegal activity is.

headdoctor 8 years ago

mudd (Anonymous) says… You know what's funny? Big D Construction invoiced First Management for 15,000 for fixing the concrete work at Overland Point because Tri County botched the work. That is the check that was cashed. Just because Freeman had paid Wunder with that money, doesn't mean Compton funded it. That is like saying somebody owed me baby sitting money and I used it to buy drugs. Doesn't mean they gave me the money for drugs, just that they owed me the money and I used it for something illegal. Freeman is trying to push the burden on someone else so his punishment isn't as harsh. The prosecution left that out, and since Compton is not on trial he can't defend


You are correct that perhaps there shouldn't be a lot of finger pointing at this time. Regardless of why you are posting in favor of Compton, please do not insult the posters here by insinuating that they are to ignorant to understand creative booking keeping as a matter of trail covering. Regardless, the end result doesn't look good. Who was it now that ended up with the 5 million dollar renovation?

middlemgmt 8 years ago

Who knows what First Management's roll is at this point. I'm sure if it's important, it will come to light soon enough. What does seem odd to me is that LJW skips this information when First Management is huge in Lawrence. If it were another local buisness that was mentioned in a trial, wouldnt it get press?

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Insiders say that rumors are abound. That the $19,000 source is First Management. Time will tell.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

From The Capitol Journal:

"Former Junction City Mayor and City Commissioner Michael "Mick" Wunder testified Wednesday a Lawrence housing contractor gave him $10,000 in two checks and $9,000 in cash "as a friendly gesture" to help Wunder pay medical bills for his ailing wife.

Wunder, 52, testified almost two hours in U.S. District Court in Topeka before court recessed. Wunder will return to the witness chair at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Wunder was indicted on 11 federal charges alleging public corruption, said Richard Hathaway, senior litigation counsel in the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Wunder, who served 12 years on the city commission, including four one-year terms as mayor, flatly denied he:

-- Demanded a payment of $15,000 in exchange for information so First Management Inc., a Lawrence contractor, could get the bid for a $5 million project to restore the Junction City Opera House.

-- Entered into an agreement to steer housing contracts to a Lawrence contractor to get a free house and the money.

"I would not have any intention to do anything against the citizens of Junction City," Wunder said. Until he heard co-defendant David Ray Freeman testify on Tuesday, Wunder said he didn't know Freeman gave him money to try to influence his decisions as a commissioner. Freeman, who pleaded guilty on June 30 to federal conspiracy to commit bank fraud, is to be sentenced on Oct. 16.

Some charges Wunder faces are tied to allegedly influencing city commissioners to guarantee enough votes to award construction of the Sutter Woods and Sutter Highlands projects in Junction City to Big D Development LLC and Big D Construction LLC, a Lawrence firm partially owned by Freeman, who paid the cash and checks."

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