- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GALENA, Kan. (AP) - To settle a private-party lawsuit, a judge has dismissed felony charges against a southeast Kansas mayor and six current or former city council members who were accused of misusing public funds.

The charges were dismissed Monday by judge A.J. Wachter after the special prosecutor, Jennifer Brunetti, said in court documents that the charges weren’t compatible with the alleged actions of Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby and the other officials. Brunetti, who was appointed to prosecute the cases, said the grand jury indicted the officials “without proper guidance.”

Baxter Springs-based attorney John Gutierrez advised the grand jury. He didn’t respond to attempts for comment, The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1VaVzMq ) reported.

Prosecutors are able to amend criminal charges in most cases, but they cannot do so when the charges are the result of a grand jury investigation that was started by a citizen petition, Brunetti said. But it’s possible that another citizen petition could be started for a grand jury investigation, which could result in new charges in the case, she said.

In a written statement, Oglesby said he was “grateful, even humbled,” by Brunetti’s motions to dismiss the cases.

“While steadfastly maintaining our innocence from day one, I have used this event to carefully examine every operational aspect of governing our city,” Oglesby said. “Every procedure, and every personal motive has been pondered often into the wee hours of the morning.”

The seven Galena officials are accused of authorizing $100,000 to buy land for the city and settle a lawsuit filed by resident Donald Fitzer against Jordan Disposal Services and Blackcat Trucking, companies owned by Brian Jordan, Oglesby’s business partner.

A petition seeking a grand jury investigation was started by opponents of the city council’s plan in 2014 to establish a landfill.

Jason Bolt, a spokesman for the group of citizens involved in the petition, didn’t respond to attempts for comment.


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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