Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel has tentative trial date in July on asbestos charges
photo by: Nick Krug
TOPEKA — Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel is tentatively set to go on trial July 24, 2019, on charges that he and others illegally disposed of asbestos-containing material during a 2016 remodeling of the Alvamar Country Club, now known as the Jayhawk Club.
Fritzel is charged, along with his son Tucker Fritzel and business associates Casey Stewart and Wesley Lynch, with violating the federal Clean Air Act by improperly removing and disposing of asbestos shingles from the roof of the clubhouse.
The indictments, which were handed down June 27, charge each of the defendants with four crimes: conspiracy; failing to notify the Environmental Protection Agency of the project; failing to wet the material before disposing of it; and failing to dispose of the material in leak-tight containers.
If convicted on all counts, the defendants could be sentenced to as much as 17 years in prison and be fined up to $1 million each.
The indictment also names two business entities as defendants: Eagle 1968 L.C., which owns the Jayhawk Club; and DFC Company of Lawrence, L.C., which built the clubhouse in the 1980s and carried out the renovation project in 2016. A third company, R&R Supply Company, L.C., was also named in the indictment but no longer exists and has been dismissed as a defendant.
photo by: Nick Krug
During a hearing, U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter accepted a request from the defendants to declare the case a “complex case” under federal law, which pushes back the normal speedy trial deadlines.
Typically, in criminal cases in federal court in which a defendant pleads not guilty, trials are supposed to begin within 70 days of the indictment, which would have been Sept. 5. But the defendants asked for the “complex case” designation to give them more time to prepare because of the number of defendants involved, the nature of the crimes charged, the need to bring in expert witnesses and the volume of documents involved in the case.
In their motion, which was filed Sept. 4, attorneys for the defendants noted that the government’s case so far involves more than 4,000 pages of documents and at least 20 witnesses whom defense attorneys need to interview.
In her ruling Tuesday, Teeter noted that the date of the trial could be changed, depending on what other motions the parties file between now and then. She tentatively set aside two and a half weeks for the trial.
In separate indictments that were filed the same day as the one involving environmental crimes, Fritzel also faces conspiracy and tax fraud charges related to his development of The Oread hotel, 1200 Oread Ave. A status conference on those charges is scheduled for Thursday before Judge Daniel Crabtree.
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Timeline: Oread tax district dispute
● April 28, 2017 — All parties sign settlement in city’s lawsuit against Oread hotel
● March 29, 2017 — Judge orders conclusion of mediation in Oread hotel lawsuit
● Jan. 20, 2017 — Judge orders mediation in city’s lawsuit against Oread hotel
● Dec. 9, 2016 — City’s lawsuit against Oread hotel moved to federal court
● Dec. 4, 2016 — City: Oread hotel developer admitted to much of alleged tax scheme
● March 15, 2016 — Oread developers agree to comply with city demands
● Dec. 31, 2015 — Oread group pays nearly $500,000 to city ‘under protest’
● Dec. 30, 2015 — City seeking more than money from Oread group as deadline nears
● Dec. 16, 2015 — City overpaid Oread hotel’s development group, mayor says
● Nov. 22, 2015 — Lawrence hires firm to evaluate Oread tax district