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What is your reaction to David Wittig getting to keep his mansion, art and furnishings despite being convicted?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on January 5, 2006

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Photo of Whit Bones

“It seems like a terrible discrepancy that he gets to keep his house after bilking people out of all that money when lesser criminals are punished much more harshly.”

Photo of Elke Mermis

“It obviously seems unjust, but if the judge is constrained by the law, then I guess there isn’t much he can do.”

Photo of Louise Weller

“I don’t think he should be able to. He isn’t deserving of it because he’s crooked.”

Photo of James Stewart

“I’m obviously outraged. Those laws are in place to protect our rights and property, but I don’t think this reflects the purpose of those laws.”

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Comments

Nikki May 8 years, 12 months ago

I think, if you are going to do a crime, be rich and you'll be fine.

Debbie Guy Spreer 8 years, 12 months ago

This infuriates me! Where's the justice in that! He STOLE all that money, but yet he gets to keep all the stuff that he used stolen money to buy? Crooked jerk.

enochville 8 years, 12 months ago

Let's press for the sentencing guidelines to be rewritten. If the goal is to keep people's families in housing, liquidate their mansion and use part of that money to purchase a modest house at best. Or, better yet, move them into an apartment.

neopolss 8 years, 12 months ago

Bilk people out of millions, potentially ruining thousands of lives = serve a light sentence, keep your illegal goods.

Sell crack on a street corner = 15 years federal prison minimum.

A system run by mostly white collar good ol boys, and laws that are designed to provide the least amount of punishment in the crimes that they would most likely commit. Oh yeah, it's a fair system.

craigers 8 years, 12 months ago

This sucks. I agree with enochville here. The law allows people to keep their home when they file for bankrupcy but generally speaking those homes were purchased and paid for legally. If illegal activity such as Wittig has taken place while he purchased this house, art, and furnishings then all should be liquidated and he should have to work some fast food joint. As soon as criminal acts start working into the equation then the protection of houses should be eliminated. Maybe they can inflate the rates for gas at Wittig's house and try to recoup the money that way. Once he can't pay for the bills then shut off his gas or make him sell his belongings to pay the high gas bill. Give him a taste of Westar's own medicine.

greyhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

blue73harley....Judge Robinson is a federal judge. Lifetime appointment. That's why it is so important for careful scrutiny at confirmation hearings, no matter what one's political affiliation/beliefs might be.

greyhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

macon47....there is no evidence whatsoever to support your inference that Judge Robinson was bribed. She and her high office are deserving of respect, even though one might disagree with the decision. Judges/courts make decisions based on the laws made by our legislators. Keep that in mind next election when Roberts, Brownback and the gang are making promises they can't keep.

badger 8 years, 12 months ago

I really don't like it at all. The inequality in the law disgusts me. If he'd been caught with a saleable quantity of pot, everything he owned would have been up for grabs on the premise that it was connected to his crime.

I think it is the 'good ol boy' network at work - not specifically with regard to the judge who was bound by sentencing guidelines, but with regard to the people who wrote the laws with the sentencing disparities between crimes rich people traditionally commit and crimes poor people traditionally commit.

macon47, I'm not really sure you can blame liberalism in the courts for the fact that the law goes easy on white-collar crime. White-collar crime is really more of a conservative tendency than a liberal one. Most liberals would rather see a Lay or a Wittig spend some hard time in federal prison than the guy caught on the corner with a saleable quantity of pot.

rhd99 8 years, 12 months ago

What kind of formula did WITTIG & LAKE use to taint that Judge's coffee yesterday? Hey, WITTIG & LAKE, take your money, mansions, Ferraris, etc. & SHOVE IT, you CON ARTISTS!

ms_canada 8 years, 12 months ago

This definitely does not sound like justice has been served. He should forfeit more that $4 million. Levity CRUEL PUNISHMENT A man sentenced to 9 months of house arrest begged to be sent to jail instead. After a week at home he showed up at the northern Italy courthouse and pleaded to be taken into custody and put in jail. He could not stand his wife's nagging. :o)

Jayhawk226 8 years, 12 months ago

blueharley--it's a pretty nice mansion, eh? and you're right, it'd be worth tons more in Lawrence.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 12 months ago

I'm not at all surprised. These guys have been getting away with crimes with only a slap on the wrist for ages.

Staci Dark Simpson 8 years, 12 months ago

I would have to agree with pretty much everyone and say I am not shocked. I sure hope if I ever get in trouble I just get my little hand slapped. What a loser.

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Folks, I have to be honest here. This is the first time we ALL have come together & agreed on virtually everything that these two convicted SCUM BAGS from Westar do NOT deserve to keep their possessions. I am proud to be associated with you all & I hope that this ruling, which I am sure the judge was following the law, will signal us to write to Congress & have them write even tougher laws that will force re-possession of all CEOs valuables when & if they get convicted for the crimes like that of WITTIG & LAKE. Oh, my mistake, we'll have to wait for Harry Reid of Nevada to be in the Senate Majority Leader's chair before this can happen.

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

omb - Oh, yeah, they're whooping it up here. I didn't watch the game, but I knew when it was over, because they started screaming, and singing, and running around in the streets outside. There were apparently people running around until dawn, singing "The Eyes of Texas" in the streets of downtown and happily rampaging through the city.

Everyone looks a little tired today, but that may just be because they're all wearing burnt orange for what must be the eleventh or twelfth day in a row, and that can really bring out the bags under your eyes.

Someone I work with said he was standing in line at midnight to get his 'National Champions' hat, shirt, and truck flag.

I don't think there were any riots or property damage, though, and there was a surprising lack of people firing off guns. I expected there not to be any fireworks, due to the burn ban and increased fireworks vigilance, but I really did expect some firing off of weaponry.

pelliott 8 years, 11 months ago

Could the corporation he used as the funnel, sue him in civil court ?

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Man, pelliott, I hope Jim Haines & Westar have the guts to take WITTIG to the woodshed in Civil Court. I don't understand why, as a CONVICT in the first place, Wittig's Mansion was NOT re-possessed. What did the Feds miss in their arguments to take back the Landon Mansion? Wittig seems to get off easy, though in my heart he deserves NOTHING for his crimes. You would think it'd be easy to win in a civil lawsuit. I hope Haines & Co. just rip WITTIG to shreds in further litigations.

beatrice 8 years, 11 months ago

Just think, Wittig also gets to enjoy more of his stolen wealth these days due to George Bush's massive tax cuts for the super wealthy!

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, Bea, & one more thing folks about this federal Judge & Alito (though totally unrelated), it is time to limit the terms of federal judges, including the Supreme Court Justices. With BUSH nominating Alito, this is a litmus test for a possible END to lifetime appointments of federal judges & Supreme Court Justices. Once again, all could happen if Harry Reid of Nevada or a Democrat takes the Senate Majority Leader chair. I bet you all that Tom Delay had plenty of help from Wittig, so, logically, Delay's lawyers teamed up with WITTIG to force that federal judge's ruling yesterday. Ironic, isn't it?

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

You know, if you poach a deer or fish illegally and get caught, the state takes your guns, boats, vehicles, fishing equipment, EVERYTHING. Then they auction it off once a year. Sell some crack? They take your house, your car, etc. So why does a big-time crook like this get off so easy? Everyone keeps saying we need a revolution - well, we get a chance at one - every 2-6 years. But it can only happen if we VOTE and VOTE INTELLIGENTLY. Now if we could just get some decent candidates...

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

rhd99: The whole point of having LIFETIME appointments of justices is to AVOID political cronyism in the Supreme Court. It is part of our checks & balances system. The founders' brilliant idea was that if a judge didn't have to curry favor with the current government to keep his seat, he would be able to remain a disinterested, impartial party in any dispute.

Now if we could get some judges who wanted to interpret the Constitution instead of trying to legislate from the bench, it wouldn't be worth either party's time to work so hard to load the court one way or another.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 11 months ago

I think we all need to run extension cords from his house to ours and let him pay our electric bills. (Please disregard the minor detail of the cost of cords to reach our houses.)

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

Le Bob Premier saith:

"I figured the firing of weapons was a given last night. Oh well, even the great Republic of Texas can be tamed."

Do remember that I live in what's occasionally called 'hippy dippy South Austin', the bluest part of a very blue city in a very red state. Probably, given the liberal leanings of my immediate neighbors, fewer than 90% of them own a gun, and half of them probably have just the one you're issued when you cross the state line, not the full arsenal the average household needs. Heck, most of these granola-eating tree-huggers (I live just off the hiking trail) probably stuck to low-caliber weapons. I think the longhair next door actually has a stun gun instead; he may be a Communist. It's really quite the anti-gun stronghold - by Texan standards, that is.

craigers 8 years, 11 months ago

Gootsie I agree, but is there a way that Westar can inflate rates to one house in particular? I know for any rate based bill you have the number of units times the price = your bill. How about Westar just changes the rate on Wittig's house? I can see it now in the headlines..."All of Eastern Kansas sees a GREAT decrease in utility bills, While One Home Pays for the Increase" How sweet would that be?

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

In any billing system that uses rate codes, there will be tiers of codes that allow a different rate for some customers - usually to resolve disparities like overcharging or customer service issues, to designate business or residential rates, or simply as part of the average package of billing software.

You could assign one tier an extra-high rate, and put Wittig's account in that tier. You know: business, residential, lying dishonorable cheating scum. He could be in a special little group all to himself.

petunia 8 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps everyone bagging on Judge Robinson here should go read the Order for themselves. Has anyone done that yet?

Then you can come back and attempt to disagree with Judge Robinson, whose opinion tracks the letter of the law, allowing Wittig to keep what was not gained through his looting of the company. Just because he keeps the house doesn't mean he keeps the money he used (stole) to refurbish the house to its present condition. The restitution he will be required to pay will effectively force him to sell his mansion.

That is, if anyone is willing to pay for a $4M house in Topeka.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 11 months ago

You nailed it craigers. Good idea!

Petunia, I'd love to read the order. Any idea where we can find it? By keeping the house, I am thinking he is entitled to any equity; however, if he sells it before his bankruptcy is finished, he would have to give that money to the bankrupty courts. Right?

born1980 8 years, 11 months ago

Whit Bones and Elke Mermis should get married, Elke Mermis-Bones, what a name.

ModerateOne 8 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately, Judge Robinson got it right here. Like most people who take a new job, David Wittig apparently bought (or received) the house when he moved to Topeka. This was before he had any time to steal money from Westar. Thus, it would have been difficult for the judge to say that the actual purchase of the house was made with ill-gotten gains.

Of course, the $4 million remodel job was with ill-gotten gains, and the judge ordered Wittig to pay this amount back.

And don't think Wittig will get out of jail anytime soon. If his convictions are upheld, he is unlikely ever to be released from prison. (Those of you who point out that his time will be served at a minimum security penitentiary are likely correct, but this also holds true for many drug dealers with no criminal history).

Knowing that the jury convicted him of receiving so much money through the bilking of ordinary Kansans, it is frustrating to watch him sit in the front row behind the scorers table at KU men's basketball games.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 11 months ago

He does? Then let's have some halftime entertainment. Let's put him in the middle of the court and everyone in the stands gets to throw a basketball at him.

Oops - that sounds threatening, doesn't it?

petunia 8 years, 11 months ago

Gootsie,

As far as I know, Wittig has not filed for bankruptcy. I believe the money he has been ordered to pay back comes from the forfeiture proceedings. ModerateOne does a good job of painting the scenario above.

If you go to ksd.uscourts.gov, you can sign up for Pacer and get the order there.

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Gootsie, no, it's not threatening but think of it this way. If you or anyone are at gym & see a punching bag, taking your frustrations out, picture that punching bag full of Wittig's face. That itself may sound threatening, but throwing basketballs might be more entertaining.

Bevy, "Now if we could get some judges who wanted to interpret the Constitution instead of trying to legislate from the bench, it wouldn't be worth either party's time to work so hard to load the court one way or another." Then please tell me, why is it that some in our country are calling for term limits for federal judges? I am not the only one. This Wittig decision by the judge yesterday only shows that our system needs to be fixed. White collared-criminals get nothing back when they steal. Wittig keeps his mansion, where is the justice in this?

neopolss 8 years, 11 months ago

"Folks, I have to be honest here. This is the first time we ALL have come together & agreed on virtually everything that these two convicted SCUM BAGS from Westar do NOT deserve to keep their possessions."

=================================================

Just because of that rhd, I have purposely changed positions and now advocate in favor of keeping everything, including the millions bilked. F 'em if the good people didn't know they would be robbed from. Let's blame the victims instead.

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

OB, does that mean blaming the victims as NEO so suggested? How were we to know that WITTIG & LAKE were self-serving S.O.Bs who robbed from the poor to live like fat cats all these years? Yes, it's true, we can't rewrite what WITTIG & LAKE did, but we can set a new course that will make it tougher for executives to hide their crimes.

born1980 8 years, 11 months ago

Wittig's wife has a lot of wealth on her own, along with her family's money. They will get by just fine.

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Well, NEO, I am sorry YOUR world isn't perfect. Get some ritalin & chill out.

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

rhd99: The reason so many people want term limits for federal judges is that the current Supreme Court is NOT functioning as the Judicial Branch was intended to do. They are not impartial, and they do not do what the Constitution established for them to do. Rather than review laws to see if they are or are not Constitutional, each side uses its position to attempt to make laws from the bench. Lawmaking is the job of the Legislative Branch. The Federal courts consistently undermine the basic principals of our democratic government by subjugating the will of the people (expressed through local and state law) to their own political and social agenda. More and more of our power is being diverted to the bloated central government.

People want term limits because they are ignorant of the reasons for our current system (i.e. to remove the judiciary from the political arena) and because that system is not currently working as it was designed to work.

I understand your frustration. I am in FAVOR of term limits for Congress, in fact I feel sure that the Founders are whirling in their graves. They never intended Congress to be a fulltime career. They saw it as a duty - and often a damned inconvenient one - not as a lifetime job. Since the electorate (the small % who actually bother to vote) does not seem inclined to clean the Congressional Closet, perhaps we need to make it self-cleaning. Term limits would accomplish this.

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, OB, sorry, NEO & everyone. When we all get robbed by a few rich people, I want justice. I am sorry all for my frustrations, but WITTIG & LAKE's ENRON style accounting gives more reason to make fun of Kansas. I don't like the way Kansas is being protrayed right now. Again my apologies. May WITTIG & LAKE rot in prison.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 11 months ago

Good flip flop RDH.

I'm with you - my family lost over $1M in the Enron scandal and I am very sensitive to it. I handle it by making fun and trying to laugh but some days it is difficult.

This group is almost always dripping with sarcasm. We're safer to assume that before becoming defensive!

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

Don't get me started on Enron. The best justice for those guys would be for them to have to live on Social Security for the rest of their lives, like many of the people whose retirement funds they looted. Let them spend a few years choosing between food, heating, and medicine on a small fixed income. Or let them become greeters at Wal Mart to eke out enough money to survive. Or dig ditches. Anything to aquaint them with honest labor and sacrifice. Perhaps then they will begin to understand how their piracy affected others. Or, put them in a cage and let people poke them with sticks :-)

trinity 8 years, 11 months ago

me, me, me, me, e_m!

for the bong hit giggle

i still want the kitchen outta wittig's house.

craigers 8 years, 11 months ago

trinity, I would go for the TV room, the weight room, the basketball court, and the Pool room with the bar. Now OMB did you have to bring out the pointy sticks? Now that post might not last long. Has anybody seen the movie "Payback"? Now I could think of something better than poking sticks. This little piggy went to the market...

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

I know - send them to Hippie Hollow. Then they can get beaten up with bongs.

leftwingfarmboy 8 years, 11 months ago

This is to all the rightwingers who agree with this. What do you do about Bush's best buddies at Enron. Let's not forget who bailed out Neil Bush and Silverado for several tens of billions of dollars. Would you vote for Wettig's less intelligent brother for president now?

craigers 8 years, 11 months ago

TOB after seeing that room, there is definitely room for the both of us and quite a few guests. Who's up for some pool at Wittig's place?

sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

Maybe justice will be served. Whittig might get to cell up with some MO hillbilly that thinks he has a purdy mouth. Squeal, piggy! See, no pointy sticks needed....well, define "pointy stick."

craigers 8 years, 11 months ago

Holy cow Sunflower_sue. I think we all could have thought it but the fact that you wrote squeal piggy is just priceless and reminds me of the South Park episode that has the kids trying to mate an elephant with a pig.

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

Sunflower Sue - WRONG!!!! So very wrong...thanks for the mental image...hee hee

beatrice 8 years, 11 months ago

All of this makes me think of our CEO President (less we forget this "cute" little nickname) and his real-life, oil-company CEO sidekick.

As George Bush once said at an $800 a plate fundraiser: "This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base." (New York, Oct. 20, 2000.)

Face the facts folks, Wittig is the type of person George Bush best identifies. He does not identify with the average American.

I hope that in 2006 people finally wake up and remember -- a kitten dies every time you vote Republican.

bankboy119 8 years, 11 months ago

Bea, good there are too many of them anyways and I must have killed my fair share then.

Kookamooka 8 years, 11 months ago

What would the kids do without their indoor basketball court? You know, this rich get richer, poor get poorer stuff is just how the French Revolution started! Oh what the hell, let them eat cake!

bevy 8 years, 11 months ago

I get so tired of the whole "Republican" and "Democrat" b.s. The truth is, BOTH sides of the aisle are filled mostly with rich white lawyers. Neither party is in touch with the real, day-to-day lives of average Americans. I propose a new party. The Common Sense Party. The planks of our platform?

Don't tax people to death.

You can't live on welfare for your entire life unless there's a legitimate need.

Don't go to war unless it is NECESSARY. (as in, some maniac a la Hitler is trying to take over the world)

As much as possible, let state and local governments decide what is best in their area. Use the federal government only when necessary.

Anybody wanna join my party?

beatrice 8 years, 11 months ago

bb, I'm not surprised someone like you would actually take pleasure in the thought, even in the abstract, of killing kittens.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 11 months ago

Nice post Bevy!

TOB, my dad started at Northern in Mullinville around 1946. He worked for them for 32 years before he was forced to retire early due to health issues. In the meantime, my brother started in Beaver OK in 1972.

When Enron collapsed, my brother lost 1/2M in retirement (luckily my sis-in-law diversified), but my mother's insurance and monthly stipend from dad were in jeopardy. My son had lots and lots of Enron stock in his trust.

I want to do the stick thing.

Hey - is there room for Beatrice and me and our pole in the pool room?

beatrice 8 years, 11 months ago

I thought it was Aiko's pole? Are we cutting out the middle man?

craigers 8 years, 11 months ago

No offense but I don't think there are very many middle men when it comes to somebody using a pole in the pool room. Just spectators.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Anyone notice that it is the Bush administration Justice Department that is bringing down these corporate criminals? And lobbyists?

If Bush is so much in control of the Justice Dept., and so in bed with bad corporations and corrupt government, why is he allowing this to happen?

How many white collar criminals did Reno prosecute?

rhd99 8 years, 11 months ago

Boy, I would like to ram a pool cue down WITTIG's throat if given the chance. Well, I hope the rich enjoy the tax cuts now because when Bush is gone, there'll be no more tax cuts for the rich. Go soak yourself, WITTIG & get lost.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years ago

What infuriates me is that the ratepayers still have to foot the bill for Wittig's attorneys. He doesn't care how much he spends on legal bills. Wittig and Lake are on a par with John Robinson and the Carr brothers and they deserve the same fate, not a life of luxury in their ill gotten loot.

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