Law enforcement agencies investigating property just east of Lawrence
Road near property shut down for hours
Law enforcement officials remained tight-lipped Wednesday about a significant investigation at a property just east of the Lawrence city limits.
Dozens of officers and detectives from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, converged about noon on a farmhouse and outbuildings at 1706 N. 1500 Road. The property is home to All Seasons Tree Service and owned by Kimm Cline, according to county appraiser records.
Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern and District Attorney Charles Branson arrived on scene Wednesday afternoon, as officers worked inside the house and a trailer parked out front.
A one-mile stretch of road in front of the property was closed for several hours.
“Since the investigation is ongoing, no further information is available at this time,” said Sgt. Steve Lewis of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He said it could be several days before any information is released.
The sheriff’s office command post was called to the scene and parked on the property. Lewis would not say what the large vehicle was being used for.
Jim Cross, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office, which the sheriff’s office said was handling media inquiries, was aware of the situation but would not divulge details.
“No federal charges have been filed, and there is no public record in the federal courts for me to draw upon to answer questions,” Cross said.
Dozens of old cars and trucks litter the yard of the property. In 2003, inspectors with the Kansas Department of Transportation’s beautification section notified All Seasons owner Donald Steele and property owner Cline that the yard debris violated state law.
At the time, Steele said his tree service company accepted old cars and trucks as payment from low-income customers. Inmates would reportedly fix the vehicles when they were released from jail and use them to get to court on time.
A phone message left for the tree service was not returned Wednesday.
In 2001, charges were filed accusing Steele of financially exploiting a retired Kansas University professor and his wife. The charges were later dropped.