NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-Kansas legislator who committed COVID relief fraud seeks to avoid prison sentence

May 10, 2023, 10:06 PM

FILE - Kansas state Rep. Michael Capps, R-Wichita, testifies during a committee hearing, Jan. 30, 2...

FILE - Kansas state Rep. Michael Capps, R-Wichita, testifies during a committee hearing, Jan. 30, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The former Kansas lawmaker who was convicted of 12 felonies for lying on applications for federal COVID-19 relief is trying to avoid spending any time in prison, with his attorney citing his Air Force service in a combat zone as one reason. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas lawmaker who was convicted of 12 felonies for lying on applications for federal COVID-19 relief is trying to avoid spending any time in prison, with his attorney citing his Air Force service in a combat zone as one reason.

But prosecutors have asked a federal judge to sentence former Republican state Rep. Michael Capps, of Wichita, to four years and three months in prison. They have argued in court documents that he “continues to show neither remorse nor contrition” over stealing nearly $500,000 in funds meant to help businesses remain afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren scheduled Capps’ sentencing for Thursday in Wichita. A jury convicted the 45-year-old former lawmaker in December of four counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering, three counts of making false statements on loan applications and one count of bank fraud. The jury acquitted him of six charges, and another charge was dismissed before his trial.

Capps served a single term in the Kansas House in 2019-20 and lost his 2020 Republican primary race.

Prosecutors said Capps filed forms inflating the number of employees he had at two businesses and a sports foundation, then applied for loans to pay the nonexistent employees.

In a court filing ahead of Thursday’s hearing, Capps attorney Kurt Kerns described Capps as a “single father and disabled American veteran who has no criminal history” and called for a sentence of five years of probation.

Capps served in the Air Force in Afghanistan and Pakistan for nearly seven months in 2001-02 under “harsh and dangerous combat conditions” and received multiple decorations, the defense filing said. Capps was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2018, the filing said, and the condition makes people more likely to engage in risky behavior.

The defense filing also said Capps suffers from medical problems such as high blood pressure and would be “at a higher risk of death or serious illness” if he contracts COVID-19, which is more likely in prison.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gordon argued prosecutors’ sentencing memo that Capps had engaged in “goal-oriented deceit,” using fake payroll numbers, employment data and revenue figures in filling out loan applications.

“This Court should reject the defendant’s continued efforts to avoid responsibility, which signal his likelihood to persist in similar conduct in the future,” Gordon wrote.

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

National News

Associated Press

After rare flash flood emergency, Florida prepares for more heavy rainfall in coming days

A tropical disturbance has brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida as residents prepared to weather more heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday’s downpours and subsequent flooding blocked roads, floated vehicles and delayed the Florida Panthers on their way to Stanley Cup games in Canada against the Edmonton Oilers. The […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sold firearms to undercover FBI agent for mass shooting, indictment says

PHOENIX (AP) — A firearms dealer in Arizona sold weapons to an undercover federal agent he believed would help him carry out his plan for a mass shooting targeting minorities, an attack that he hoped would “incite a race war,” according to a federal grand jury indictment. Mark Adams Prieto was indicted Tuesday by the […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

12 hours ago

Ex-Kansas legislator who committed COVID relief fraud seeks to avoid prison sentence