Crime & Courts

Wichita officers indicted in gambling probe no longer with police department

One of the two Wichita police officers who were indicted in an illegal gambling investigation is no longer employed with the department as of Thursday – the same day the federal indictments were made public.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified that officer as Bruce Mackey, 45, of Goddard. He has been a Wichita police officer since 1996.

The other man indicted, a lieutenant, began his policing career in 1991 and left the department in April of last year, Officer Charley Davidson said Friday.

He was identified on the indictment as Michael Zajkowski, 50, of Wichita.

The two officers and a gambling operator “tried to out an undercover investigator at a poker game,” according to the indictments.

The third man charged is Brock Wedman, 48, of St. Marys, who was identified as someone who ran an illegal gambling operation.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t say if any other officers are involved, or if more indictments will come up, citing an open investigation by the FBI.

The investigation into the officers began before Ramsay became the police chief. He said he was made aware of the investigation upon his arrival.

A retired Highway Patrol trooper also was charged Thursday in connection with an illegal poker game in Wichita. Michael Frederiksen, 52, of Derby, is accused of lying to the FBI about taking part in an illegal cash poker game.

During an FBI interview, Frederiksen made false statements, downplaying his involvement in illegal poker and his relationship with the operator of the poker game, the indictment said.

The two police officers and the gambling operator are charged with one count each of obstructing law enforcement. Wedman also is charged with lying to the FBI.

Making changes

Speaking to members of the media Friday, Ramsay said “there’s a lot that’s been going on” in his department.

In the past couple months, two Wichita officers have been involved in shootings, and another officer is under investigation for an incident that happened in Augusta.

On Dec. 28, an officer fatally shot Andrew Finch, 28, who was unarmed. District Attorney Marc Bennett is reviewing that case, he has said. Two days later, another officer shot at a dog in a room full of children, wounding a 9-year-old girl. That incident is under investigation.

Another officer, ranked as a captain, is accused of pushing a teenage official at an Augusta basketball game Jan. 13. That officer is on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Ramsay said since becoming chief in 2016, he’s made multiple changes in procedures for how to handle officers who are being criminally investigated.

“We no longer investigate our own employees who have been accused of a crime,” he said. “We now ask other agencies to investigate those for us.”

They also make it a practice to notify the public when officers are arrested or charged, he said.

“Most recently, we are no longer paying officers when they have been charged with a crime,” he said. “We now place them on unpaid leave.”

Earlier this week, the department created a citizen review board, which will be involved in reviewing incidents of alleged police misconduct.

Other charges

On Jan. 12, two men – Daven Flax and Danny Chapman – pleaded guilty to operating illegal gambling businesses. The men are among several Wichitans whose phone conversations were intercepted by the federal government in the spring or summer of 2015, including businessmen Brandon and Rodney Steven and Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, who at the time was a state senator.

Last year Brandon Steven told The Eagle he was the subject of a federal inquiry into his playing of high-stakes poker and his involvement in trying to open a casino in Kansas.

The Steven brothers and O’Donnell have not been charged nor were they mentioned in the news releases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Nichole Manna: 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna