3 College Basketball Recruiting Insiders Convicted, KU Considers Implications
NEW YORK (AP) — An Adidas executive and two other insiders from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting were convicted today (WED) in a corruption case that prosecutors said exposed the underbelly of the sport. A federal jury in Manhattan found former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and amateur league director Merl Code guilty of fraud charges. The trial centered on whether the men's admitted efforts to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas was criminal. At stake was a fortune in revenue for the basketball programs and potential endorsement deals for the players if they went pro. Evidence included text messages between the defendants and coaches from top-tier coaches like Bob Self of Kansas and Rick Pitino of Louisville and testimony from the father of prized recruit Brian Bowen Jr. describing how a Louisville assistant handed him an envelope stuffed with cash. Prosecutors claimed the schools were in the dark about the payment schemes. They accused the defendants of defrauding universities by tricking them into passing out scholarships to players who should have been ineligible. The defendants didn't deny they sought to make the payments. But they argued that was how the recruitment game was played by Adidas, Nike and other sportswear companies - and that talent-hungry coaching staffs knew it.
The University of Kansas was one of three schools the defendants were convicted of defrauding. Not long after the verdict was announced, KU chancellor Doug Girod issued a lengthy statement. The chancellor says the university is evaluating its options over its current deal with the Adidas shoe company, but there is no timetable on a decision. Before the verdict was announced, KU coach Bill Self said sophomore forward Silvio DeSousa wouldn't play in the Jayhawks' first exhibition game. It appears that DeSousa is being held out of the game because of testimony presented at trial, in which a former Adidas consultant testified that DeSousa’s guardian received a payment shortly before DeSousa committed to play basketball at KU last year. Since there are two other trials scheduled for next year, in February and April, Chancellor Girod says KU will refrain from making further comments at this time.
Kansas Man Guilty in Death of Boy Found Encased in Concrete
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the horrific abuse and slaying of a 3-year-old boy whose body was found encased in concrete in the laundry room of his home four months after his death. Stephen Bodine, 41, of Wichita, was convicted Wednesday in the May 2017 death of Evan Brewer. Bodine was also found guilty of child abuse, aggravated child endangerment and two counts of kidnapping. He will be sentenced December 17. Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses and presented more than 550 pieces of evidence during six days of trial, including parts of the concrete tomb found in the rental home where the boy had lived with his mother, Miranda Miller, and Bodine. Jurors saw videos and photos showing Evan being abused, including footage of him chained and naked in a basement, being berated by Bodine and Miller, and forced to stand in a corner for hours. Carlo Brewer, Evan's father, celebrated the verdict but said his joy was tempered by sadness because of the cruelty his son had endured. Brewer had been fighting for custody of Evan in the months leading up to his death, and authorities had been alerted at least six times that Evan was being abused . Miller is also charged with murder in her son's death. In exchange for testifying against Bodine, she will be allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. Much of the evidence at trial came from a cache of 16,000 photos and video files collected by the couple's home surveillance system. In one video, Bodine and Miller are heard chastising Evan over the course of several hours, less than two months before he was killed. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said the jury performed an extraordinary service to the community for enduring the sometimes grisly testimony. Miller testified that Bodine had been punishing Evan for not eating on May 19, 2017, when he took the screaming boy into the bathroom. She said he soon came out with her son's wet and lifeless body in his arms. She said during a preliminary hearing that a few days later Bodine told her that he wanted "to take care of Evan before he started to smell." She said he mixed up several bags of concrete and buried the boy's body in it. Evan was discovered entombed in the concrete in early September, after Miller and Bodine had moved out of the property. An autopsy couldn't determine the cause and manner of Evan's death because his body was so badly decomposed by the time he was chipped out of the block of concrete. He had Benadryl in his system, and Miller said she thinks Bodine sickened him in the days leading up to his death by force-feeding him large amounts of salt. Bodine's own daughter, Samantha Johnson, also testified about the physical abuse she suffered from her father, saying her experience was similar to Evan's. Brewer said he hopes his son's death will lead to more efforts to confront child abuse.
Daughter Testified Against Father to Honor Slain 3-Year-Old
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The daughter of a man convicted of abusing and killing a 3-year-old Kansas boy says she felt compelled to testify about the abuse she also suffered. Samantha Johnson is the daughter of Stephen Bodine, who was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the May 2017 death of Evan Brewer. Evan's body was found encased in concrete at his Wichita home in September last year. Johnson says she endured abuse similar to that inflicted on Evan. She says testifying about it was difficult, but that she did it to honor Evan because he didn't get a chance to tell his story. Johnson says she can now move on. Bodine will be sentenced December 17.
No Decision Yet in Case of Beanbag Shooting Death of Suspect
MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — A judge is waiting for written opinions before deciding whether there is sufficient evidence for a Kansas undersheriff to be tried for involuntary manslaughter for fatally shot a man with a beanbag round. KWCH-TV reports that a final decision isn't expected until February in the case against Barber County Undersheriff Virgil "Dusty" Brewer. The involuntary manslaughter charge stems from the Oct. 6, 2017, death of Steven Myers, who was shot after leaving a shed. Authorities tracked Myers to the shed after he was accused of threatening people with a gun outside a bar in Sun City, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of Wichita. A Kansas Bureau of Investigation special agent testified during the preliminary hearing that Brewer hadn't received any training in the use of beanbag rounds.
Nebraska Woman Arrested in Kansas Crash that Killed 3
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman involved in a collision that killed three people in Kansas has been captured in Nebraska. Jackson County, Kansas, Sheriff Tim Morse says in a news release that 49-year-old Maria Perez-Marquez, of Omaha, was arrested by U.S. Marshals Tuesday in Nebraska. Details of where she was arrested were not immediately released. Perez-Marquez is charged in Kansas with three counts of involuntary manslaughter after a crash in November near Holton that killed the mother, sister and uncle of two Kansas high school football players shortly after the family watched the boys' Sabetha team win a state football championship. Two other people were injured. Perez-Marquez failed to appear in Jackson County District Court in October. Morse says Perez-Marquez is being held in Omaha awaiting an extradition hearing.
Prosecutors Try to Determine Whether a Son Shot his Mother
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says an investigation into the shooting death of a 41-year-old woman has been presented to prosecutors. The Wichita Eagle reports Lisa Trimmell was shot in June 2017 at her home near Andover. Investigators have said Trimmell's two sons, ages 14 and 22, were visiting when she was shot. A sheriff's report says evidence indicates one of the sons shot his mother. The shooting occurred about a month after her husband filed for divorce. The sheriff's office said Monday the case has been turned over to the county prosecutor's office but no arrests have been made. An autopsy concluded her death was a homicide. The Eagle has previously reported that prosecutors are trying to determine whether the shooting was justified or a crime.
Woman Freed from Prison Early over Calls Recorded in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Texas woman serving time in federal prison has been released early because a former prosecutor listened to recorded phone calls between her and her attorney. The Kansas City Star reports that 37-year-old Michelle Reulet is one of potentially dozens of defendants who could be affected by a pending federal court case over recorded calls at a privately run detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas. Reulet left prison Monday after U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered her release. She was serving a five-year sentence for mail fraud and was not due for release until September 2020. Defense attorneys allege federal prosecutors regularly obtained recordings of attorney-client phone calls in violation of their clients' constitutional rights. Prosecutors contend there were a few isolated instances such as Reulet's case.
18-Year-Old Kansas City Man Convicted in Fatal Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 18-year-old Kansas City man has been found guilty of fatally shooting a man who he believed had assaulted his mother. The Jackson County prosecutor announced Monday that Tony Mack was convicted of second-degree murder and five other charges in the January shooting death of 56-year-old Leon Taylor. The Kansas City Star reports court records indicate Mack said he shot Taylor because he believed Taylor assaulted his mother. Prosecutors say Mack he didn't believe his mother's explanation that she had scars on her face and knees because she fell down. He said he thought Mack hurt his mother and went outside and fired several shots into Taylor's car. Sentencing is set for December 14.
Parole Denied for Janitor Who Killed Kansas Girl in 1974
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Parole has been denied for a school janitor who subdued a 13-year-old girl with chloroform more than 40 years ago as she walked home from a suburban Kansas City pool and then killed her. The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas Prisoner Review Board has ruled that 71-year-old John Henry Horton will have to wait until 2023 for his next chance to be released from prison. He wasn't arrested until 2003 for the 1974 death of Liz Wilson. She vanished while cutting through the parking lot of Shawnee Mission East High School. Her remains were found six months later. Horton was sentenced to life in prison. But life, under Kansas law in force at the time of Liz's death, meant serving only 15 years before being eligible for parole.
Jury Convicts Kansas Doctor in Drug Distribution Conspiracy
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a Kansas doctor accused of unlawfully prescribing pain medication blamed in one patient's death. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release that 57-year-old Steven R. Henson of Wichita was convicted Tuesday of unlawfully distributing methadone and alprazolam, the use of which resulted in the death of a victim on July 24, 2015. The doctor was also convicted of conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs outside the course of medical practice, unlawfully distributing various prescription drugs, presenting false patient records to investigators, obstruction of justice and money laundering. Prosecutors alleged at trial that Henson wrote prescriptions in return for cash, post-dated prescriptions and wrote prescriptions without a medical need or legitimate medical exam. Sentencing will be set at a later date.
FBI Investigating Sedgwick County Commission
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County commissioners say the FBI is interviewing county officials and employees as part of an investigation into the commission. The Wichita Eagle reports interviews and documents it obtained indicate the investigation involves possible obstruction of justice surrounding some commissioners' efforts to oust County Manager Michael Scholes. County memos show at least one commissioner asked legal staff about firing Scholes after he reported information on commissioner conduct to the FBI. None of the memos The Eagle reviewed clarify what information Scholes may have provided to the bureau. Commissioner Richard Ranzau confirmed that the FBI has been interviewing county officials and employees. Commission Chairman David Dennis says the county is conducting its own investigation into personnel issues that have affected worker morale and prompted employees to resign or retire.
Mother Sues Police over Fatal Shooting of Son in Kansas City Area
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — The mother of an Independence, Missouri, man who was fatally shot by police last year is suing the city, the police chief and the officer who fired the shot. Fifty-one-year-old Carlos Cruz was shot in January 2017 at his home. Police say he was shot after pointing a shotgun at officers. Jackson County prosecutors declined to file charges against the officer who shot Cruz. The Kansas City Star reports the lawsuit contends Cruz was drinking and threatening to kill himself when his mother called police. The lawsuit says Cruz placed his shotgun on a porch railing, remained calm and never threatened officers before he was shot. Police spokesman Officer John Syme said Tuesday the department doesn't comment on pending lawsuits. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
Wichita Police Officer Won't be Charged in Fatal Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police officer will not be charged in the fatal shooting of a man who was holding his girlfriend at knifepoint. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Tuesday the officer who shot Jose Ortiz in August 2017 used reasonable force in firing one shot that struck Ortiz in the head. Bennett says an autopsy showed Ortiz was using methamphetamine during the confrontation, and the meth caused Ortiz to believe his girlfriend was hiding men in her bathroom. The district attorney says SWAT officers who entered the home found Ortiz holding his girlfriend with a knife. He hands were tied behind her back. Ortiz ignored commands to release his girlfriend. Bennett says when the woman winced in pain, the officer believed she was being stabbed and fired once.
Wichita Woman Sentenced for Taking Guns to Pay Drug Debt
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Wichita woman was sentenced just over nine years in federal prison for stealing handguns from a store to pay off a drug debt. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release that 28-year-old Chaelyn Nichole Aaron was sentenced Monday for theft of firearms. In her guilty plea, Aaron admitted that in March she pried open a display case at an Atwoods store and took seven handguns before leaving. Court documents indicate she gave the guns to a drug dealer to pay off her debt.
Sole Ticket Sold in South Carolina Claims Mega Millions Jackpot of $1.5 Billion
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Lottery officials say someone bought a ticket in South Carolina to win the Mega Millions jackpot with a final total of $1.537 billion. The earlier estimate of $1.6 billion would have been the biggest ever, but actual sales came in just short of a 2016 Powerball prize shared by winners in three states. South Carolina lottery officials plan to identify the store where the winning ticket was sold once law-enforcement is in place to help handle the attention, around mid-day on Wednesday.
Wichita Bird Lovers Oppose Stray Cat Ordinance Proposal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita bird lovers are accusing a city board of feral cat favoritism over a proposed ordinance that aims to make it easier to be a stray feline. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Animal Control Advisory Board has proposed an ordinance to set policies allowing Wichita residents to establish and care for colonies of stray and feral cats at their homes and businesses. The cats would be trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and released back into the community to a caregiver. The caregiver would be responsible for food, water, shelter and veterinary care. Wichita Audubon Society President Tom Ewert told the board last week that the ordinance would be bad for birds. Ewert says board members primarily consulted the group Friends of Felines when making decisions on the ordinance. The board is expected to finalize the proposal November 28.
Big 12 Extends Tourney in KC, Announces Big East Deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Big 12 Conference has announced an extension of its contract to keep its men's basketball tournament in Kansas City through 2024, along with a four-year scheduling pact with the Big East. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday that there was little debate whether to keep the tournament at Sprint Center. The previous contract was set to expire after the 2020 season. As for the Big East alliance, Bowlsby said it was designed to address the scheduling concerns of many coaches. The Big 12 already plays a double round-robin schedule, and as other large leagues go to 20-game conference slates, it has become difficult to add competitive nonconference games. The alliance will begin next year, with five games played at Big 12 venues and five played at Big East venues. Kansas-Villanova, Texas-Providence, Oklahoma-Creighton and Kansas State-Marquette are set, with the remaining games still to be scheduled.