By Roger McKinney
COLUMBUS, Kan. — If Cherokee County Attorney Michael Goodrich doesn’t resign voluntarily, Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison will consider ouster proceedings against him, Morrison spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said Thursday.
Anstaett said Morrison will review the federal charges against Goodrich to determine whether ouster proceedings are warranted. She said no decision would be made until after the review takes place.
The county prosecutor was charged in an indictment Wednesday in U.S. District Court at Wichita with two counts of extortion, one count of wire fraud and one count of witness intimidation. A co-defendant, Timothy J. Schooley, 29, of Baxter Springs, is charged with one count of extortion.
Anstaett said state law 60-1205 applies to ouster proceedings for public officials. The law states that public officials may be removed from office for engaging in misconduct; neglecting to perform their duties; violating criminal statutes; or mental incapacity. She said the attorney general has the authority to initiate ouster proceedings under such circumstances.
There was no word Thursday whether Goodrich was considering resigning.
Some county residents who Thursday were on the courthouse square in Columbus shared their opinions about whether Goodrich should resign.
“Definitely,” said 84-year-old George Plunkett, of Columbus. “I would say he’s supposed to be an example for doing the right thing. To say I’m shocked and disappointed is an understatement.”
Mike Patton, of Columbus, said he wouldn’t necessarily want Goodrich to resign unless he’s found guilty of the charges.
“Give him a fair chance,” Patton said.
Angie Rippel, of rural Scammon, said she would like to see Goodrich suspended until the case is over and ousted if he is found guilty.
“I think he should probably be held accountable,” Rippel said. “People in public office like that should be held to a higher standard.”
Nora Morris, of Columbus, said she also would wait to see if the charges are proved before favoring Goodrich’s resignation. Morris said she was not aware of Wednesday’s indictment.
“I’m shocked,” Morris said.
Steve Byers, of Columbus, said Goodrich should resign.
“No man should be above the law,” Byers said.
Goodrich, 47, is accused of receiving money and financial favors from the owners and employees of Sensations Gentleman’s Club, of rural Galena, in return for favorable legal treatment for the club’s employees. The crimes are alleged to have taken place between Jan. 1, 2005, and September 2007. Goodrich became county attorney in January 2005.
The charges also allege that Schooley was a middle man transferring money from club employees to Goodrich.
The witness-intimidation charge alleges Goodrich tried to influence assistant Cherokee County Attorney Garth Adams when he was scheduled to be questioned by a FBI agent.
James Cross, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren, was asked whether charges had been considered against anyone at the strip club, considering the charges indicate the club employees may have participated with Goodrich in the alleged scheme. Cross also was asked whether the reason may be because the employees were cooperating with the prosecution.
“I can’t make any statement about evidence — or the lack of it — beyond what is in the public record,” Cross responded in an e-mail. “I can’t make any statement about who is or is not cooperating with a federal investigation.”
Cherokee County Attorney Michael Goodrich is scheduled to have an initial appearance on the charges Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court at Wichita, said James Cross, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. He has not been arrested or required to post bond.
By Roger McKinney
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