A man who previously worked for the Kansas Highway Patrol as a trooper was convicted of lying to the FBI. The organization had conducted an investigation for years concerning illegal gambling in the Wichita area. The former trooper was recently sentenced to a year of federal probation. The case involving the retired state trooper opened the biggest window to date into the FBI’s gambling investigation, which involves a family who is prominent in the Wichita business sector.
Michael Frederiksen, the convicted, received his sentence from U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren. The sentence was less than what prosecutors proposed. Mona Furst, Assistant U.S. Attorney, submitted a recommendation for five years’ probation, and recommended that some of that time be supervised. Furst’s recommendation also included the notion that Frederiksen was not permitted to engage in any type of gambling, legal or illegal, and requested a $1,000 fine.
The judge stated that the former trooper was a “highly unique defendant” and did not think it was appropriate to put Frederiksen behind bars. Melgren also stated that there was no evidence to support that the retired trooper had a gambling issue, which meant the judge was not going to implement a special condition pertaining to gambling. Frederiksen was not charged a fine.
The former state trooper intends to appeal the conviction, according to Melanie Morgan, his attorney. Morgan told Melgen that there is a “real disagreement” concerning what took place during Frederiksen’s interview in February 2017. The attorney stated that “what we know about this gentleman is that for his whole life, he’s tried to do things right.” Morgan also noted that Frederiksen spent decades of his career in law enforcement and that he has “involved himself in countless activities” including church, sports, food drives and the Rotary. The lawyer also pointed out that the former trooper officiated high school and college wrestling and was a “role model for young men.”
According to testimony at Frederiksen’s trial last year, he engaged in illegal gambling partially operated by Johnny Steven. Steven is a member of a popular business family in Wichita. Rodney and Brandon, Johnny’s older brothers, were wiretapped in the wider investigation of the case. None of the Steven brothers has been charged.
In an after-verdict statement issued last May, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that during the 2017 FBI interview “Frederiksen made false statements, downplaying his involvement in illegal poker and his relationship with the operator of the poker game.” At the time of the games, including a game in Old Town in 2014, Frederiksen was a state trooper. The Office confirmed that Frederiksen, 53, faced a federal prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.
More on the Gambling Investigation
While last spring’s federal trial focused on whether the retired trooper was guilty, the testimony gave a more intense look into the overall gambling investigation. At the time, the probe was continuing and had already lasted several years. Frederiksen’s case was the first to go to trial.
The majority of the trial testimony surrounded the role Johnny Steven allegedly played as a partner in the unlawful betting business. At the trial, the former trooper said that Steven was his insurance agent and often invited him to private poker games.
When Frederiksen’s defense attorney asked an FBI agent why Steven was not charged during the trial, the agent stated, “Our investigation is ongoing.”
Frederiksen was found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI. The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to support one of the two lying charges.
Kurt Kerns, Johnny Steven’s attorney, spoke with The Eagle after the verdict. Kerns stated, “The only count my client was accused of being involved in was thrown out by the judge.” Kerns also asserted that Steven has not been charged.
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