Sedgwick County commissioner enters not guilty plea in federal indictment

Local

Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell made an appearance in federal court Wednesday. During his arraignment, he entered a plea of not guilty.

He is charged with five counts of wire fraud, five counts of bank fraud and two counts of money laundering. An indictment was unsealed last Friday. 

Prosecutors allege O’Donnell put campaign money into his personal bank account and filed false reports with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

O’Donnell told a judge that he looked over the indictment and understands what the government is alleging against him. He also said he understands the penalties. 

Outside the courthouse, O’Donnell walked with his attorney Mark Schoenhofer. KSN asked O’Donnell if he had anything to say since this was his first public appearance since the indictment was unsealed.

“I guess not. Thank you,” said O’Donnell.

The court proceedings took only about 10 minutes.

The U.S. Government recommended O’Donnell be released on no special conditions. A judge ordered him to surrender his passport, which he did. The judge told him not to obtain another one.

After court, KSN asked both attorney Mark Schoenhofer and O’Donnell if they had any comment.

“We’ll get the scheduling ordered, and we will know where we will go from here,” said Schoenhofer.”

He also said he maintains O’Donnell is innocent of the charges and will provide a vigorous defense.

O’Donnell’s next appearance in court hasn’t been set. The judge will release a schedule in the next couple of days to outline what comes next and when.

O’Donnell walked away from court by again saying thank you to the media.

O’Donnell was elected to the Kansas State Senate in 2012 for a term that ended in January 2017. He did not run for re-election and instead was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission for a term set to expire in 2020.

Wednesday also marked O’Donnell’s first appearance at a Sedgwick County Commissioner meeting since he was charged with federal crimes. 

His parents attended the meeting as a show of support for their son. 

As for the county commission meeting, it was business as usual.

O’Donnell walked in quietly as the meeting started at 9 a.m., and he only spoke to acknowledge some of the motions that were brought up during the meeting. 

KSN did try to catch up with O’Donnell on two occasions after the meeting to see if he would comment on the federal indictment and what comes next. 

“I don’t have anything to say at this moment, but thank you guys very much,” said O’Donnell. 

None of the commissioners acknowledged the charges alleged against O’Donnell during the meeting, but Commissioner Richard Ranzau did reiterate his previous stance of wanting O’Donnell to offer up his resignation. 

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