Wichita police have served Jesse Zogleman with two criminal complaints for operating an amusement ride company without being properly licensed.
The city’s law department also has ordered Zogleman to stop operating Moonwalks for Fun and Pure Entertainment until the matter is cleared up, Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said Friday. The complaints are over city ordinance violations, and both are misdemeanors.
A Municipal Court hearing has been set for May 30.
Moonwalks for Fun owns inflatables, and Pure Entertainment has the rides at its events venue. Both businesses are in the same building in west Wichita, near Tyler and Kellogg.
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Moonwalks for Fun had its license to operate inside the city limits revoked for two years by the City Council in June 2011 because of a lapse in liability insurance coverage. The complaints cite two instances where Moonwalks for Fun had contracts to rent the inflatables for events in Wichita since the revocation.
Jesse Zogleman runs the day-to-day operations of both businesses, and his father, Duane, is the owner. Jesse could not be reached for comment.
But Duane Zogleman said, “I think it’s a bunch of . . . I’m not going to say anything about this. That’s Jesse’s thing. I have no comment.”
He said his son was selecting an attorney Friday to fight the complaint.
“After he does, I’m confident his counsel will have a statement,” Duane Zogleman said. “We want to make sure we get everything out the right way. We’d like to move forward.”
A 5-year-old boy died at Pure Entertainment in 2010 after falling off an inflatable provided by Moonwalks for Fun. That incident was followed by a tightening of city ordinances governing inflatables.
Thirteen companies are licensed to operate inflatables in the city, but only five actually do provide them. All five of those have told The Eagle they don’t rent inflatables to Pure Entertainment.
Some of those five companies have also claimed that Moonwalks for Fun has continued to regularly rent inflatables since the revocation. One of the requirements of city ordinance is that companies pay to have their rides inspected.
“Our most vocal critics in this investigation are the other companies because they feel like (Jesse Zogleman) is getting away with stuff that they have to pay for, and they don’t think that’s fair,” Stolz said. “I don’t blame them.”
Stolz noted that the police have been checking into concerns since September.
After The Eagle ran two stories about Moonwalks for Fun and Pure Entertainment last week, including the claims of several Wichita residents that they had agreements with Moonwalks for Fun to provide inflatables for birthday parties, Stolz said police received a number of calls from people complaining about Moonwalks for Fun and Pure Entertainment.
Police followed up on those calls, resulting in the two complaints.
One is an allegation that Jesse Zogleman set up a contract to provide inflatables to Heartspring Inc., which serves children with special needs, at its site, 8700 E. 29th St. North, on April 14. The complaint doesn’t say whether Zogleman actually delivered the inflatables.
The second allegation is that Zogleman had a contract to provide inflatables for the Girls Scouts of Kansas Heartland. No date was specified in the complaint.
Last week, the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland told The Eagle it had an agreement to hold a celebration party on June 9 at Pure Entertainment to honor 335 girls who sold at least 500 boxes of cookies this year.
When police served the complaints to Zogleman at his Wichita residence on Wednesday, Stolz said, he told police the rides were provided by other companies and had been properly inspected and licensed.
In an attempt to verify that information, Stolz said Zogleman agreed to meet police and a city inspector at Pure Entertainment on Thursday.
“When we went to the business on Thursday, it was locked and no one showed,” Stolz said. He added that police will attempt to meet with him again.
Matthew Rupp, owner of Big Sky Party Rental, one of the licensed inflatable companies, said he was relieved to hear police had filed complaints.
“The rest of us spend a lot of money and time on our businesses,” he said. “Let’s clean this up and do it right.”
Stolz said that’s also the city’s intent.
“We’re not trying to harass anyone,” he said, “but (Zogleman) does have to abide by the same rules and regulations as the other companies in this city that run this type of business. There has to be a level playing field for everyone. These are all things we’re looking into.”
In a related matter, Zogleman had recently filed an application to operate an inflatables business under Jesse Zogleman Enterprises. That application has been denied, said Branden Hall, the city’s licensing administrator.