Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Pfannenstiel receives probation

July 18, 2001

Although he was convicted and sentenced for having improper sexual relations with inmates at Lansing Correctional Facility, former Basehor Mayor John Pfannenstiel is not giving up the fight to clear his name.

"It is a matter of principle," Pfannenstiel said. "I believe the investigators were incompetent, and I believe the prosecutors ignored evidence that would cause anyone to believe these inmates were lying."

Pfannenstiel was convicted March 23 on three counts of having sexual relations with inmates while he was a corrections officer at the Lansing Correctional Facility..

He was also charged with bringing contraband into a correctional facility without permission but was acquitted on that charge.

On Friday, July 13, Judge Frederick Stewart sentenced Pfannenstiel to six months in prison on each felony sex charge, but the judge then granted the former sergeant 12 months probation.

Pfannenstiel will have to comply with the terms of his probation or face having to serve his prison sentence. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors wanted Pfannenstiel to serve more than two years in prison, which he would have served in facility outside of Kansas.

However, since Pfannenstiel had no criminal history, the court can grant Pfannenstiel probation under current state sentencing guidelines.

Pfannenstiel said he and his lawyer intend on filing an appeal with the Kansas Appellate Court. The defense will start preparing for the appeal within a week or two, Pfannenstiel said.

The defense will file the appeal following a court entry of the conviction. From there, the appeal will have to be placed on the court docket so a hearing could be scheduled.

The process could take as long as one year, Pfannenstiel's attorney Terry Lober said.

Pfannenstiel has maintained his innocence since he was charged in September 2000. He said there was a conspiracy by the inmates as well as investigators at the prison.

"The bringing of the charges was not politically motivated," Pfannenstiel said. "They were brought so the inmates could get themselves out of trouble. The prison investigators were incompetent and motivated by the opportunity to bring down a

mayor.

They jumped the gun and handed it off to the county attorney's office who took the case prematurely and then, when they realized it wasn't what they thought, there was a motivation to keep the charges so they could save face."

Several of the inmates who testified against Pfannenstiel at his trial were facing punishment for testing positive on a drug urinalysis. In exchange for their testimony, the inmates were not punished, Pfannenstiel said.

"I think they found themselves in a jam over the drug disciplinary reports and decided to bring the charges," Pfannenstiel said. "I think they were trying to get themselves out of trouble."

Pfannenstiel also said prosecutors in the case were not convinced he was guilty. They offered him several plea bargains before and during his trial.

"I said I couldn't certainly plead guilty to something that I didn't do," Pfannenstiel said. "I would rather lose in a fair fight than throw in the towel before the fight starts."

For now, Pfannenstiel said he is concentrating on spending time with his family before making any decisions regarding future employment.

"Whatever job or employment I take will be built around spending time at home," he said.

Although he would like to hold some kind of political office in the future, Pfannenstiel said he had no plans for community service until his appeal is settled.

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