Crime & Courts

Ex-mayor of Junction City guilty

The former mayor of Junction City was convicted Friday of taking bribes from a housing developer.

A federal jury in Topeka found Michael R. "Mick" Wunder, 52, guilty of nine criminal counts, including multiple charges of bank fraud and using his city position for profit.

The jury found Wunder not guilty of evading the Bank Secrecy Act and one count of improperly using his city position to gain money and property.

Wunder will return to court for sentencing Jan. 10.

According to evidence heard at the trial this week:

Wunder, who also was a city commission member, became friends in 2004 with David Ray Freeman, a developer from Lawrence and a co-defendant.

Freeman was considering investing in land to build houses in Junction City for soldiers returning to nearby Fort Riley.

Junction City began annexation of 1,400 acres to be developed for housing on reports that those soldiers would provide a booming market for new housing and could double the city's population.

Wunder told Freeman he could deliver the votes on the city commission to award Freeman exclusive development rights in exchange for $10,000 and construction of a new house on one of the lots.

In return, Freeman's company, Big D, would develop Sutter Woods and Sutter Highlands, with more than 500 lots for single-family residences, duplexes and condos.

The development contracts were worth more than $12 million to Freeman's company.

Under the contract, the city would pay for the infrastructure and Big D would sell the lots.

Freeman issued a $5,000 check payable to Wunder's wife on May 1, 2006. The memo line on the check said, "Loan for Medical Bills."

Four days later, Freeman bragged to his partners that he had a Junction city commissioner in his pocket and he could get anything approved by the commission.

Freeman issued a $5,000 check to Wunder on July 6, 2006. The memo line on the check said, "Loan Repayment."

The Junction City Commission approved an agreement with Big D for development of Sutter Woods on July 27, 2006. The following September, the commission approved an agreement with Big D for development of Sutter Highlands.

The city commission later approved payments in excess of $12 million to Big D.

Later that year, Freeman promised to deliver a contract to renovate the historic C.L. Hoover Opera House to Freeman for $15,000.

Freeman sent his administrative assistant to deliver $9,000 to Wunder during a meeting at a rest stop on I-70 near Paxico.

Freeman is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 16 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy.