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Ex-chief’s texts suggest greater role in raid by KBI, prosecutor

Staff writer

Newly obtained documents — which Marion refused to supply — are casting even greater doubt on the downplaying by Kansas Bureau of Investigation and County Attorney Joel Ensey of their roles in now disavowed raids Aug. 11 on the Marion County Record and the homes of its editor and Marion’s vice mayor.

Kansas City TV station KSHB reported Sunday that a source had provided it copies of texts from Marion’s now resigned police chief, Gideon Cody, in which he told Ensey a day after the raids that KBI was “100 percent behind” him.

“Joel, KBI just called,” the texts say. “They told me [they] are 100% behind me and we did things exactly as it should have been done. They reached out to me. I didn’t call. Their number two will be calling me.”

Ensey responded: “Ok. Thank you.”

Cody then sent another message: “They want to use an independent lab not affiliated with government for forensics, and they appear to be taking this case over. I will let you know.”

Ensey responded: “Ok.”

In texts sent two days before the raids and also provided by KSHB’s source, Cody told Ensey:

“Call me when you can this morning. KBI will be lead in the investigation. I sent them a brief and they are sending out investigators. Other charges are coming with this as well. I want to keep you in the loop. It appears larger than when I looked at first.”

Cody has contended in court documents filed in the first of what likely will be many federal lawsuits that KBI and Ensey were fully aware and supportive of what he was doing.

Earlier emails obtained by the Record and KSHB offer some indication Cody might have been telling the truth.

A day before the raids, KBI special agent Todd Leeds sent an email to Marion police officer Zach Hudlin, now the city’s acting chief, about police plans to raid Record editor Eric Meyer’s house.

“Did you guys execute this yet?” Leeds wrote.

“No,” Hudlin responded. “My understanding is that the county attorney wasn’t in the office today.”

In a report posted Sunday afternoon, KSHB said it had not obtained the latest text messages directly from Cody’s cell phone.

This past week, Jennifer Hill, a lawyer for an insurance company representing the City of Marion, denied KSHB’s requests — as she earlier had denied similar requests from the Record — for Cody’s texts even though state law makes it clear such records are open to the public.

In her denial, Hill admitted that the city had access to the records but chose not to provide them in response to a request under the Kansas Open Records Act because they were “attorney work product . . . not data being collected for KORA responses.”

Legal action challenging her denial is expected.

KBI has repeatedly declined to comment on the case, contending it remains under investigation even though no one involved has admitted being contacted by KBI in weeks.

Ensey also has repeatedly declined to comment.

Last modified Dec. 4, 2023

 

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