Advertisement

Archive for Friday, February 19, 2010

Ex-Junction City mayor sentenced to 2 years in prison for taking bribes from Lawrence developer

February 19, 2010

Advertisement

A former Junction City mayor has been sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison for taking bribes from a Lawrence developer who later received at least $12 million in municipal contracts to build housing in the city.

Michael R. “Mick” Wunder, 53, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers to forfeit $19,000 and pay a special assessment of $900.

Wunder had been convicted in October of charges including bank fraud, perjury, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and unlawfully using his position as a commissioner to obtain money and other properties.

His crimes came in connection with David Ray Freeman, who had befriended Wunder in 2004 as Freeman sought to land construction contracts in Junction City, a community then wanting hundreds of homes to accommodate the return of the Army’s Big Red One from Europe.

Freeman, who awaits sentencing after earlier pleading guilty to conspiracy, has testified that he had Wunder “in his pocket” by paying Wunder and his wife $19,000. Freeman’s company, Big D Development, also had set aside a prime lot in one of its developments for Wunder.

Comments

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

wow!

this kind of activity is illegal in Junction city?

good thing it is legal here in the good ol' district of douglas county. man, can you imagine how many developers and city commissioners would be in trouble if this kind of racketeering were illegal?

can you imagine the list? lets start with the SLT west link 'buyout' process.

add your favorite to the list and enjoy!

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

huh, this 'news' comes out at 5:30pm on a friday?

weird. I wonder why?

bad_dog 4 years, 10 months ago

perhaps because he was sentenced today, puddle?

CLARKKENT 4 years, 10 months ago

PUDDLE

BE ASSURED THERE IS MORE PEOPLE INVOLVED. I GUESS WE JUST HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE IF THEY GET THE REST.

XEPCT 4 years, 10 months ago

clarkkent, be assured, people understand you when you type in lowercase. And p.s. there are more people involved, because people are plural.

sherbert 4 years, 10 months ago

When it comes online late in the day, it's usually in the regular paper the next day.

yankeevet 4 years, 10 months ago

I wonder if they will get; or convict the others who were involved.........

Kookamooka 4 years, 10 months ago

Anybody going to investigate the way developers do business in Lawrence?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

February 19, 2010 United States Attorney's Office

TOPEKA, KN—Michael R. “Mick” Wunder, 53, a former mayor and city commissioner of Junction City, Kan., has been sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for taking bribes from a developer who received city contracts to construct new housing developments. U.S. ! District Judge Richard D. Rogers also imposed a $900 special assessment and a forfeiture of $19,000.

During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that in 2004 Wunder became friends with co-defendant David Ray Freeman, a developer from Lawrence, Kan., who was considering investing in land for constructing new houses in Junction City. At the time, there were reports that soldiers returning to Junction City and Fort Riley would create a booming market for new housing and the city’s population could double. As a result, the city of Junction City began annexation of 1,400 acres to be developed for housing.

Wunder told Freeman that for $10,000 and construction of a new house on one of the lots, Wunder could deliver the necessary votes and approvals to give Freeman’s company, Big D, the exclusive right to develop Sutter Woods and Sutter Highlands, with more than 500 lots for single family residences, duplexes and condos. The development contracts were worth more than $12 million to Freeman’s company. Under the contract, the city would purchase the infrastructure and Big D would have the exclusive right to sell the lots.

On May 1, 2006, Freeman issued a $5,000 check payable to Wunder’s wife. The memo line on the check said, “Loan for Medical Bills.” On May 5, 2006, Freeman and his partners formed Big D Development, LLC, and Big D Construction, LLC. Freeman, who held a 50 percent interest in the businesses, bragged to his partners that he had a Junction City Commissioner in his pocket and he could get anything approved by the commission.

On July 6, 2006, Freeman issued a $5,000 check to Wunder. The memo line on the check said, “Loan Repayment.”

On July 27, 2006, the Junction City Commission approved an agreement with Big D for development of Sutter Woods Subdivision. On Sept. 8, 2006, the commission approved an agreement with Big D for development of Sutter Highlands. The city commission later approved payments in excess of $12 million to benefit Big D.

In late 2006, the city began accepting bids for renovation of the historic Opera House in Junction City. Wunder told Freeman that for $15,000 he could ensure Freeman would receive the winning bid for any company he selected. Freeman selected the company, which received the winning bid, and sent his administrative assistant to deliver $9,000 to Wunder during a meeting at a rest stop on Interstate 70 near Paxico.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

None of the imagined new growth took place which has left Junction City taxpayers holding the bag. When local government officials preach " we must plan ahead" grab your wallets.

It's time local taxpayers took charge. It's time to allow voters the opportunity to make final approvals at the polls once a year.

“Barnes was enthralled with this Freeman guy,” said Pete Robertson, a Junction City lawyer who worked with the Junction City Taxpayers Association, which raised a red flag about the city’s rising public debt and the activities of some of the developers."

http://cjonline.com/news/state/2009-06-08/feds_charge_jc_developer

“If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch,” Scruggs said. “But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.”

While developers pay for onsite water, sewer and road infrastructure, Scruggs said it is costly to pay for offsite upgrades needed, such as enlarging lift stations and raising water towers.(OR a NEW $88 million sewage treatment facility in Lawrence plus all maintenance of new infrastructure).

“Now if we have to upgrade a lift station, it is paid for by the general fund revenue paid by each taxpayer in the city,” Scruggs said. “Someone on the west side of town would have to pay for subsidizing the growth in demand caused by the development in the east part of town.” (In our case it is eastside taxpayers subsidizing westside growth)

Ocean Springs had 120 homes constructed in 2000, 90 in 2001 and is on track to have 120 homes constructed in 2002. If impact fees had been collected on the 310 homes built in three years, the city would have extra revenues of about $2.1 million.

In order for the city to have orderly growth, developers need to be responsible for a certain amount of the infrastructure. Most builders understand impact fees are for a purpose that improves their development.” ( So do public schools,fire stations,parks etc etc)

CLARKKENT 4 years, 10 months ago

XPECT

YOU TYPE LIKE YOU WANT TO, AS WILL I, JUST THE WAY I "ARE".

fshsbird 4 years, 10 months ago

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

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

larrynative: I know how everyone likes to bash developers but keep in mind those guys support a large % of our workforce.

hey man, that was a good one. when you say large% of our workforce you mean all the immigrant workers, right? most of the labor force moved to Lousiana after Katrina and never came back.....ask me how I know.

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

bad dog- thanks for the tip, of course you could be spot on.

i was thinking along the lines of sue Hack and other city commissioners' desires to hide-er, I mean move the open meetings to monday afternoon when everyone is at work, that way they wouldn't have to answer stupid questions like: "hey, how much $ in stock do you own before you approved the huge taxpayer dollars for deciphera?" you know, stuff like that.

Mr_Missive 4 years, 10 months ago

There is ONE more "big person" indictment coming. There is a reason Freeman is still out of jail. He is still talking.

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

larrynative << I do not know the parameters of his deal but since he was the one who started the whole mess>>

well why don't you just truck yourself on over to the bauer farms area and see the labor force for yourself.

by the way, are you saying it is okay for developers to do backdoor deals with city government, because they employ a couple of local people?

and we all know who else was involved, but Big D ain't no dummy. The secretary 'lost' the laptop. That's exactly what I would have done. kudos to Big D.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.