Jan 10, 2020 3:15 PM

Developer of hotel near KU pleads guilty to tax conspiracy

Posted Jan 10, 2020 3:15 PM
Oread Hotel adjacent to the University of Kansas campus photo courtesy Oread Hotel
Oread Hotel adjacent to the University of Kansas campus photo courtesy Oread Hotel

TOPEKA, KAN. – A Kansas building contractor pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to deprive the city of Lawrence of sales tax revenues in connection with the development of a seven-story hotel adjacent to the University of Kansas campus, according to the United State's Attorney.

Thomas S. Fritzel, 54, Lawrence, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy. Fritzel, part owner and manager of Oread Inn LC, was a party to an agreement with the city to finance the more than $40 million hotel project, including $11 million worth of street repairs and a public parking garage.

Oread Inn LC was to pay all costs up front and to be repaid $11 million for public improvements. The money to repay Oread Inn LC was to come from an incremental increase in property tax, a sales tax and an additional 1 percent tax on sales within a portion of the redevelopment district.         

In his plea, Fritzel admitted that he and others caused false monthly Kansas sales tax returns to be submitted to the state of Kansas. The reports classified certain sales as occurring within the redevelopment district when in fact they occurred outside the district. As a result, the city of Lawrence lost a portion of sales taxes it was due.         

The city of Lawrence filed a civil lawsuit against Fritzel seeking the lost revenue and the parties settled that case in 2017.

Sentencing in the criminal case is set for May 4. Both parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of 12 months and a day in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. 

Continue Reading Great Bend Post
Jan 10, 2020 3:15 PM
Police catch 2 drug suspects driving on the wrong side of Kan. road
Gutierrez photo Cowley County Sheriff 

COWLEY COUNTY — Law enforcement authorities are investigating two suspects on drug charges after a traffic stop.

On December 7, a police officer conducted a traffic stop on vehicle in the 500 block of North Sixth Street in Arkansas City for driving on the wrong side of the roadway, according to a media release.

The vehicle had three occupants.

During the traffic stop, the officer determined that the tag on the vehicle had expired and the vehicle had an open title that did not show proper ownership or proof of insurance.

Because the vehicle could not be operated legally on a city street, officers conducted an inventory of the vehicle prior to its being towed from the scene. During this search, they discovered items of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine.

Further investigation led to the arrest of two of the passengers. Larry Charles Armstrong Jr., 37, Ponca City, Oklahoma, was arrested on requested charges of one felony count each of no drug tax stamp and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, as well as one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

They also arrested Jamie Hugo Gutierrez, 26, Ponca City, Oklahoma, on requested charges of felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Both Armstrong and Gutierrez remained in custody.