Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Witness pleads guilty to perjury

February 20, 2002

An inmate who pled guilty last week to perjury says a Leavenworth attorney paid him to lie on the stand, according to the deputy county attorney.

The inmate, Kenneth Gardner, testified on behalf of former Basehor Mayor John Pfannenstiel during Pfannenstiel's trial last March. The former mayor was found guilty on three felony counts of having sexual relations with inmates at Lansing Correctional Facility, where Pfannenstiel had worked as a guard.

But last Wednesday, prosecutors said, Gardner pled guilty to perjury in Leavenworth County District Court, saying he lied on the stand, according to Roger Marrs, deputy county attorney.

Further, he said Terry Lober, Pfannenstiel's attorney, promised him money in return for his testimony.

"At the plea hearing, he admitted he had been promised compensation for his testimony that he provided false testimony, that he was led into testimony that Mr. Lober wanted him to give at the trial," Marrs said.

Marrs said Gardner told officials that Lober had promised him $600.

Marrs also said Gardner "admitted he had received $35 of the $600 that was promised."

That $35 had come in the form of a money order sent to Gardner at a New Mexico prison, where he'd been transferred at his own request after the Pfannenstiel trial, Marrs said.

Lober was outraged at the allegation, calling it "insane."

"I was unaware he was charged with perjury," Lober said Tuesday. "That floors me. I was completely unaware of that."

In addition, Lober denied that he offered money to Gardner in exchange for testimony.

"That's completely and utterly false," he said.

Lober said Gardner asked him for help in filing lawsuits, a request Lober said he refused.

"I wouldn't do it because it would appear to be inappropriate," he said.

He did say that he sent Gardner money in New Mexico.

"I gave him $35 when he was in New Mexico to buy paper, pens and cover his postage so he could continue to communicate with me and Mr. Pfannenstiel," Lober said. "He's not telling the truth. If he is saying he was offered money for testimony, he's just a liar. You have to consider the source here. I don't know what they offered Mr. Gardner."

Marrs said Gardner would be sentenced on the perjury charge at 9 a.m. March 22. The potential sentence for perjury is 32 months in custody, Marrs said. But as part of a plea agreement, the county attorney's office has agreed to seek only one month in prison.

Gardner is serving time for murder and arson, with a release date in 2030, Marrs said.

"He's going to be nearly 70 before he gets out anyway," Marrs said. "He'll serve a little bit of additional time for the perjury charge, but in return for his assistance in the investigation, we agreed we'd ask the court. It's up to the judge."

Marrs said the state Supreme Court's disciplinary administrator's office had been notified about the allegations against Lober.

But Stan Hazlett, the administrator, said he cannot confirm or deny his office is investigating any allegations.

Marrs said additional charges could be filed.

"Based upon that information, additional follow-up will be conducted," he said.

Marrs said he had information during the trial that Gardner was perjuring himself.

"It is outrageous," he said. "It was outrageous at the time of trial and it was very frustrating to have information that it was going on and not be able to do anything about it."

During Pfannenstiel's trial, Gardner was one of two defense witnesses. He testified that other inmates were trying to frame Pfannenstiel by saying Pfannenstiel had sex with them.

"He testified that the other inmates the state's witnesses had approached him and told him they were going to set up John Pfannenstiel and they were going to file a lawsuit against John Pfannenstiel and the state for money," Marrs said.

Pfannenstiel was sentenced to a year of probation, and Lober said Tuesday he was working on an appeal of Pfannenstiel's conviction.

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