Which city commissioner was involved in this one?
Posted in the Junction City Forum
#1 Jun 8, 2009
Feds charge JC developer
By Tim Carpenter
June 8, 2009 - 4:39pm
Federal prosecutors in Topeka filed a fraud case Monday against a Lawrence developer who was involved in building new housing in anticipation more soldiers would be stationed at Fort Riley.
U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said contractor David R. Freeman, 45, was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, evasion of federal currency reporting requirements and interference with interstate commerce by extortion of a public official.
The housing boom started when the U.S. military announced the Big Red One would return to Fort Riley from Germany. The Junction City government invested heavily in infrastructure development to spur housing growth. It was not without controversy, with the Junction City Taxpayers Association raising a red flag about the public debt and activities of some developers.
Federal investigators say Freeman was part owner of Big D Development and Big D Construction, but also was associated with Tri-County Foundations, L and K Trucking and Big D.
Five years ago, Junction City officials encouraged developers to do business in Junction City in anticipation of a troop build-up at Fort Riley. The city annexed 1,400 acres for home building.
Federal officials say Freeman was drawn to the community and became friends with a member of the Junction City Commission.
In 2006, federal investigators say, Freeman issued a $5,000 check to the wife of the city commissioner from Tri-County Foundations. Another check payable to the commissioner was issued by L and K Trucking in 2006.
In July of that year, Big D received a development contract for Sutter Woods subdivision in Junction City. Big D later received the development contract for Sutter Highlands subdivision.
The two contracts had a total value to Freemans companies of more than $12 million, federal officials say.
After the city commission awarded the development contracts to Big D, the company set aside a lot for a residence under the name firefighter, which federal investigators say was a code name for the city commissioner working under the table with Freeman.
In 2007, Freeman had $9,000 in cash delivered to the commissioner at a truck stop between Topeka and Junction City. His instructions were to cash checks in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid filing a currency transaction report required by the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act.
Freeman faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service worked on the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Hathaway and Christine Kenney are prosecuting.
#2 Jun 8, 2009
#3 Jun 8, 2009
Do you think the paper will print this one? This is just the first shoe to drop.
#4 Jun 8, 2009
I new there was something going on. I wish I knew who it was as well. I have been saying that this was going on from the beginning. See the other blogs on the Union and Wichita contracter.
#5 Jun 8, 2009
I think anyone who has been proved to cause an unjust financial burden on this town by these backroom deals should be fined to the max and thier assets sold to paydown city Debt. I have lived and worked in JC my whole life,bought a new house for my family not to long ago, put a substantial downpayment on it and am being taxed out of here because a few aholes new how to work over a few idiots in office,and dont even get me started on all the businesses that recieved loads of money from JC tax payers and dont pay taxes back by enforcing thier employees to live here or living here themselves. why does a $10-20 something an hour City employee have to reside here within 90 days? and not someone whos recieved 100s of thousands-millions of dollars in incentives. This is crazy. Sure screws up my ability to live here with the wages vs cost of living, the company I work for recieved tax breaks and half the employees dont live in Junction because the cost is too high. Can I get incentives to stay here in my hometown. I have put in everything I have and recieved a slap in the face. Thanks Junction City.
#6 Jun 8, 2009
Freeman Made friends with a local real estate broker also I hear. We All know who. Why is there no mention of this ever? Its obviouse they where all in cahoots
#7 Jun 8, 2009
This article is from the Topeka Capital-Journal. I'm curious to see if it will be in The Daily Union.
#8 Jun 8, 2009
Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever completely know who was involved in all of the backroom deals that were made between JC officials and developers. It's sad that a few unethical leaders tend to make everyone look bad.
#9 Jun 8, 2009
Sooner or later this had to come out. Who was the "firefighter"? Who else was involved?
Once guilt is established in court and convictions are made, legal action needs to be taken against those involved to repay part of the city's debt created. Those that benefited from the illegal activities need to be held accountable.
#10 Jun 9, 2009
I can tell you all that the State of Kansas doesn't really care how they get the taxes. This was all done right under their noses. After all the legislature still got their raise, didn't they? Many calls to them have been made and no real response yet. The office that handles home warranties is backed up 5 years so don't hold your breath. The Reprentatives of these districts are too busy covering their own piles to get involved here. We elected our local government and trusted them to do the honest and prudent thing with the tax money and all they have done is squander all of it and more. All we can do now is elect different ones (goodbye Scott) that have as little money and property as most of us have. That way maybe the average people can afford to live here. If they lose us they won't have much left, after all, our jacked up taxes are paying for this mess!
#11 Jun 9, 2009
Updated article with names of city officials and their comments.
By Tim Carpenter
Created June 8, 2009 at 4:39pm
Updated June 9, 2009 at 1:12am
A Kansas contractor who sought to capitalize on the Fort Riley housing boom was charged Monday with fraud in a case implicating someone who was on the Junction City Commission in a bribery scandal.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Topeka contend David Freeman, 45, of Lawrence, engaged in conspiracy to commit bank fraud and evade federal currency reporting requirements.
Court records dont identify the current or former commissioner who befriended Freeman and accepted at least $19,000 from him while lobbying to win development contracts for new subdivisions.
Jim Cross, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch, said information about the targeted commissioner couldnt be divulged.
Freeman is scheduled to appear in federal court June 30.
The investigation is ongoing, said Cross, who added that bribery was central to the case.That is exactly what is alleged.
Neither Freeman nor his attorney, Carl Cornwell, could be reached for comment.
The Junction City Commission annexed 1,400 acres in the expectation thousands of new housing units would be built following transfer of the Big Red One to Fort Riley from Germany.
The city government invested millions of dollars in building infrastructure in advance of a housing boom.
Growth didnt occur as planned. There is a glut of houses on the market, and hundreds of building sites are vacant.
City Commissioner Scott Johnson, elected in April, said the Freeman case was vindication for people like himself who complained for years about preferential treatment of certain developers by city officials.
Ive warned the city about David Freeman, Johnson said.Its just blatant, outrageous favoritism.
In 2004, city manager Rod Barnes and a majority of the commissioners began seeking out-of-town developers to rapidly build homes.
Freeman and his partners doing business as Big D Development, Big D Construction, Tri-County Foundations, L and K Trucking were drawn to the building opportunity.
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 citys rising public debt and the activities of some of the developers.
In May 2006, Freeman issued a $5,000 check from Tri-County Foundations to the wife of a city commissioner.
A $5,000 check payable to the commissioner was issued in July 2006 by L and K Trucking.
During this period, federal investigators allege, Freeman bragged to partners in Big D, and others, that he had a Junction City commissioner in his pocket.
The commission awarded Big D a contract in July 2006 to develop Sutter Woods subdivision and a contract in September 2006 to develop Sutter Highlands subdivision.
The contracts were worth $12 million.
Prosecutors say Big D executives set aside a choice lot for a residential home for 'firefighter, which was purportedly the cooperative city commissioners code name.
Former Commissioner Mick Wunder, defeated for re-election in April, lost despite heavy support of Junction City firefighters.
Current Commissioner Mike Rhodes also was endorsed by the firefighters. Wunder and Rhodes have been among the commissions most outspoken supporters of housing expansion.
In March 2007, federal court records say, Freeman ordered an assistant to deliver $9,000 to the helpful commissioner at a highway rest stop between Topeka and Junction City.
City Commissioner Jack Taylor said he anticipated state or federal investigators eventually would charge people involved in the housing catastrophe.
Still, my goodness, Taylor said.I guess nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to city government.
#12 Jun 9, 2009
It is a sad statement for Junction City. We have a bad public image and it just keeps getting worse. I was sorry to see that this involves former and current JC commissioners. As far as Mr. Taylor saying nothing surprises him in city government; He was a part of that government and I would be curious to see his voting record on the developments in this story. We need a complete overhaul of our city government. We should elect our Mayor. We should have city councilmen who are elected by voters of that area not commissioners that are just assigned an area of the city. I would like to have representation by someone who is concerned with my neighborhood.
The city commission over the last couple of years has done some great things for the city.(The Bartel House, The Roundabouts on I-70, and other things that have given a new face to Junction City.) It is a shame that greed has tarnished our image once again.
#13 Jun 9, 2009
State news reports in 2007/2008
Carol Gould, the citys public relations director, promised expansion beyond your imagination.
It makes my head spin, city manager Rod Barnes, giddy at the chance to be an architect of renewal, said at the time.
City commissioners spent millions of dollars to finance incentives for developers
to launch the quick-reaction housing boom. City Hall also invested millions of dollars to install water lines, sewers, streets and other infrastructure in dozens of new subdivisions.
George Marcus, a homebuilder and founding member of the taxpayers association, said it didnt make sense that the city felt compelled to offer incentives for development given its firmly held belief the influx of troops would fuel growth. Marcus said savvy, experienced developers were able to extract extraordinary concessions from the city, especially from Barnes.There is no other rationale, Marcus said.
Nearly three years into the experiment, Barnes now says the word phenomenal aptly described the citys annexation of 1,400 acres and work to enhance housing and expand the local economy. If given a chance to redo the process, he said, the only change would be to spend more time talking to the public about the citys progress.
Its been a good experience, he said.Were going to continue to grow.
Junction City Vice Mayor Mick Wunder said all of the negative chatter was disturbing.It hurts me to see people argue and fight, he said.Were our own worst enemy.
City officials dont see the unfinished homes and subdivisions as a liability. Rod Barnes, city manager, said Junction City isnt overbuilt. He said the city has approved 56 new subdivisions since 2004. If all subdivisions were filled in with new homes, that would create more than 6,000 housing units. Among that 6,000 are about 2,200 single-family home lots with streets, sewers and other infrastructure, but no actual houses.Weve got opportunity for that growth, Barnes said.I dont think were overbuilt. Were going to see a rush as two brigades come back this year. Wed be in big trouble if they brought all the troops home. Mayor Mike Rhodes, in his state of the city address Monday, said that in 2007 the city staff inspected 1,447 residential and commercial projects, representing $141 million in valuation and generating $1.1 million in fees.Weve not had this kind of growth ever, Barnes said.
But Scott Johnson, a realtor with Century 21 Matlock Johnson Realtors, disagreed with Barnes approach. Johnson said the community would have been better off if the city had developed new subdivisions in phases, adding perhaps 100 houses at a time rather than opening it up like the Wild West. Now, Johnson said, there is scattered
home development, with many incomplete. Johnson said he was worried the city and ultimately the taxpayers would be responsible for all of the millions in debt the city has incurred building streets and sewers and providing incentives for developers. While driving around town, he pointed out some empty fields at Sutter Highlands and Oliva Farms.This whole development should have never been started, said Johnson, whose family has lived in Junction City for more than a century.We try not to be a junk town, Johnson said.But look at what happened.
Fagan said Big D Development sought a Rural Housing Incentive District
for Olivia Farms, Sutter Woods, Sutter Highlands and Manns Ranch which the Junction City school board and city council approved last fall.
But when Geary County commissioners met Dec. 17, the Junction City
Taxpayers Association protested and commissioners voted 2-1 against using
the Rural Housing Incentive District program.
#14 Jun 9, 2009
Someone said a local city commissioner won the super big cash kansas lotto. Did anyone hear the story.
#15 Jun 9, 2009
Yes,He won an all expenses paid trip to Leavenworth Kansas to spend some time with Bubba for taking bribes.
#16 Jun 9, 2009
actually to be city employee you now have to live in GEARY COUNTY its on the city website now...
#17 Jun 9, 2009
it was in todays daily union
#18 Jun 9, 2009
I would be happy if they required people who take my tax dollars to open/run a business here to at least live in the county,sounds fair to me. if they didnt agree to, I would say they really dont care about the community and we shouldnt care about thier business.
Fort Huachuca, AZ
#19 Jun 9, 2009
These commissioners, the city manager, and all these builders and businesses that dont pay taxes have been in "bed" together for YEARS! He, Rod Barnes is as dirty as they come, and you know what, these city commissioners continue to put him back into office. The good ole boys club is alive and well in this city. Many of these commissioners own rental properties that the charge exorbitant rent and the exteriors are dumps! They themselves are nothing but slum lords.
I agree with another post, whoever is involved, close down their businesses, and fine the pants off of them. Now the can really "give" back to the city they profess to be helping. Freaking scum bags!
This should be a wake up call to the so called elite in JC, you think you won't be caught, well guess what, you have, and will continue to! You all should be very ashamed of yourselves. Thieving, greedy, people! Trust me; the wife of this commissioner is just as greedy as her husband. I am sure she will play dumb to why she was handed a check, if it is the commissioners wife I think it is, go get your hair dyed again, and fake bake some more, because maybe you could be the medical research project for the frying of brain cells. Trust me all the dying and baking will not make you young looking, you actually are sick to look at. The eighties are over, new decade, teased hair, and brown leather tans are out, so attempting to regain your youth is OVER, and for you, it has been a very LONG time ago. Trust me you arent cute and you never were!
As my great aunt would say, "you think your s**t don't stink, but your farts give you away"! And this place smells like a SEWER! Whoever is involved you deserve what ever you get, public humiliation, fines, and jail time.
Can anyone else hear the pristine walls of the old boys club falling? I do! LOL
#20 Jun 10, 2009
That has always been the rule for as long as I lived in Geary County.
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