TOPEKA, Kan. — A woman in northeastern Kansas says she paid her neighbor $700 in cash for yard services, but when authorities arrested the man they seized her money and kept it.
Suzanne James alleged the Kansas Bureau of Investigation balked at returning her money unless she went to its headquarters for questioning, which she refused to do, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
James, 72, said she paid her neighbor Chad Wendlandt to mow her lawn and provide tree care services while she was out of town last summer. But Wendlandt, 42, was arrested by the KBI on charges of bond violation before he could do the work. The bond was granted after he was arrested in April on a warrant charging him with six felony drug crimes and conspiracy to commit perjury, according to Shawnee County court records.
“I am 72 years old and recovering from several major health issues including cancer,” James wrote in an August letter to KBI Director Kirk Thompson after being asked to come in for questioning. “The money I paid the defendant has nothing whatsoever to do with the charges pending against him, and I would very much appreciate and need its prompt return.”
The KBI has maintained it acted appropriately and that the matter is no longer its responsibility because Wendlandt’s case concluded when he was sentenced in December to 85 months in prison for drug crimes.
“Since the criminal case has concluded, and the property seized is no longer needed as evidence, it is up to the court to determine the custody of the evidence,” said Melissa Underwood, spokeswoman for the KBI. “She (James) may want to seek guidance from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division on how to claim ownership of the cash, or pursue legal advice on the best remedy available.”
James said Wendlandt told her his attorney let the district judge know at his sentencing hearing that the $700 was rightfully James’, but she still hasn’t received the money.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com