University of Kansas

Olathe lawyer says client tipped feds to KU ticket scandal

TOPEKA — An Olathe defense attorney let loose with a tirade today outside of federal court over the ongoing University of Kansas basketball ticket scandal.

Defense attorney Carl Cornwell complained that his client, David Freeman, got no consideration in a separate federal case for helping federal investigators try to put a stop to "business as unusual" at the KU ticket office.

After his client was sentenced to 18 months in an unrelated bribery case, Cornwell alleged that "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in income had gone unreported to the Internal Revenue Service in the KU ticket scandal.

The problem with missing tickets has been going on for years and involves both NCAA tournament tickets and regular season tickets at Allen Fieldhouse, Cornwell said.

Cornwell specifically mentioned problems at the Williams Educational Fund, the university's primary vehicle for athletic fund-raising, but he refused to give specifics or say who had been selling the tickets.

During a lengthy bench conference before his client was sentenced, Cornwell waved a copy of today's Kansas City Star sports page in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers in an effort to get Freeman's sentence reduced below 18 months.

"Rodney Jones resigns, an investigation starts and who sets that in motion? My client," Cornwell said after the sentencing hearing. "And I get (blank) for that."

Cornwell added that he is confident the KU athletic department will find a way to cover up the ticket scandal and "put their best spin on it."

Leaving the federal courthouse in Topeka in the rain, Cornwell quipped, "I should have brought my K-State umbrella."

KU athletic officials could not be reached for comment.

Freeman, 46, a developer from Lawrence, was sentenced for bribing a Junction City commissioner in a real estate deal.

Last month, The Kansas City Star reported that federal investigators are looking into allegations that someone illegally obtained KU men's basketball tickets and sold them. That article was published after the university suspended Rodney D. Jones, who was director of the Williams Educational Fund.

After the Star reported the federal investigation, the athletic department moved to reassure donors to the Williams Fund by announcing an internal investigation by a Wichita law firm.

As that probe got underway, Jones' boss, assistant athletic director Ben Kirtland, resigned. Kirtland and KU declined to speak to reporters about his departure, saying it was a personnel matter.

Last week, Jones resigned.

In the Junction City case, Freeman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy last summer and agreed to testify against former Junction City commissioner Michael R. Wunder, 53.

At Wunder's trial last fall, prosecutors presented evidence that Wunder took bribes from Freeman, who received city contracts to construct new housing developments.

According to testimony in that case, Wunder told Freeman that for $10,000 and a new house, Wunder could deliver the city's approval for Freeman's company to have the exclusive right to develop more than 500 lots for single family homes, duplexes and condos.

A jury convicted Wunder on Oct. 2 of bank fraud, perjury and using his official position to obtain money and property.

In February, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Rogers sentenced Wunder to two years in prison. Wunder surrendered last week to begin serving his sentence at a federal prison in Minnesota.