Letter Keen A. Umbehr wrote to KBI asking for investigation into missing weapons
March 30, 2009
Kansas Bureau of Investigation
1620 SW Tyler
Topeka, KS 66612
Re: Possible Missing Weapons – Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department
My name is Keen Umbehr and I am an attorney practicing in Topeka, Kansas. The purpose of this letter is to relay a concern I have had for over a decade regarding the handling of weapons seized by the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department.
My initial concern stemmed from a telephone call I received late in 1996 or early 1997 from then-Wabaunsee County Deputy Sheriff Rachele Weddle. Deputy Weddle informed me that then-Wabaunsee County Attorney Jeffery A. Sutton showed her an uzi-style weapon in the trunk of his car during the time he was moving personal items from the county attorney’s office after losing his bid for reelection. This concern was reignited recently when current Wabaunsee County Sheriff Doug Howser informed me that an uzi-style weapon (Norinco brand), which had previously been a part of the sheriff department’s evidence inventory, could no longer be located.
My second concern arose in January of 1997, when Craig Spomer, who succeeded Mr. Sutton as Wabaunsee County Attorney, informed me that two weapons had been transferred from the sheriff’s department inventory to the county attorney’s inventory four days prior to Mr. Sutton’s departure from office. Mr. Spomer provided me with a copy of a document signed by then-Sheriff Richard Old and Jeffery Sutton dated January 10, 1997, which listed the particular weapons being transferred as: 1) Winchester 12 gauge Pump, Model #1300 XTR, S/N LX035005, and, 2) Taurus PT 101 AF .40 caliber pistol [S/N 86995]. (See attachment #1 – Weapon Disposal)
Eleven days later, on January 21, 1997, newly-elected Wabaunsee County Attorney Craig Spomer transferred the two aforementioned weapons back to the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department. This weapons transfer was documented and signed by Mr. Spomer as well as Sheriff Richard Old, who acknowledged receipt of said weapons. (See attachment #2 – Weapons Transfer)
Mr. Spomer also informed me of the existence of a letter written by a representative of the KBI specifically instructing Sheriff Richard Old not to transfer weapons out of the sheriff’s evidence inventory under any circumstances. Notwithstanding, it appears as though Richard Old transferred weapons anyway.
On February 10, 1997, I submitted a letter of complaint against Former Wabaunsee County Attorney Jeffery A. Sutton with the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator. My complaint alleged in part that Mr. Sutton had received compensation in the form of firearms for legal work he had privately performed for the sheriff’s department. (See attachment #3)
On February 19, 1997, the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator, acknowledged receipt of my complaint and initiated an investigation. (See attachment #4)
On March 30, 1999, the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator informed me that there was insufficient evidence to prove a violation of the standards of professional conduct. The matter was then concluded. (See attachment #5)
After reading about the investigation of missing weapons from Marshall County and more recently from the town of Ottawa, I have decided to forward my concerns about possible missing weapons from Wabaunsee County, and hereby request an official investigation into whether the above-identified weapons are currently in the possession of the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department. If the weapons are no longer in the possession of the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department, I ask that an investigation be conducted to determine whether proper documentation exists authorizing the final disposition of said weapons.
s/ Keen A. Umbehr