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Crime and Courts

Former Wichita Police Officers Indicted In Connection With Gambling Probe

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flickr Creative Commons

Federal prosecutors are accusing two former Wichita police officers and a gambling operator of obstructing justice, saying they revealed the identity of an undercover officer who was investigating illegal gambling, an indictment unsealed Thursday says.

The indictment charges police officers Michael Zajkowski, 50, of Wichita and Bruce Mackey, 45, of Goddard with obstruction of law enforcement along with gambling operator Brock Wedman, 48, of St. Marys. Wedman also is charged with lying to the FBI.

Also separately charged Thursday in a related criminal complaint is retired Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Frederikson, 52, of Derby. He is charged with two counts of lying to the FBI about his participation in an illegal cash poker game and contacts with the man running the illegal gambling business.

Court records do not indicate whether the men have attorneys. The Wichita Police Department referred questions to the U.S. attorney's office, but Chief Gordon Ramsay made a statement at Friday's regular media briefing, saying the department is involved in the ongoing investigation, and the indictments "weigh heavily" on personnel.

Investigators have been looking into an illegal gambling business with ties to public corruption in Wichita since November 2011, according to an FBI affidavit. Investigators learned of more than five different business establishments throughout Wichita and identified numerous individuals involved with the illegal live poker games.

A member of the Wichita Police Department's undercover narcotics section developed an unwitting informant who offered to introduce an undercover officer into the game, according to the affidavit.

Thursday's charges against the four men follow two Wichita men's guilty pleas last week to federal gambling and income tax charges related to operating an illegal gambling business in the Wichita area. One of those men, Danny Chapman, pleaded guilty last Friday to one count of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of tax evasion. The other, Daven Flax, pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of making a false statement on a tax return. Flax admitted he managed illegal games at numerous locations in Wichita.

The latest charges, which include those against the police officers, stem from a Feb. 12, 2014, poker game during which Zajkowski and Mackey allegedly used Police Department resources to determine the ownership of a vehicle driven by the person who they suspected was an undercover investigator. Prosecutors say they revealed the identity of the officer to Wedman and other co-conspirators and that Frederiksen, while still a Highway Patrol trooper, was a player in that game.

The undercover investigator posing as a gambler tried to use his phone to snap photographs, and the men running the game took him aside and told him he was making other players nervous by taking photos, according to the FBI affidavit.

The government alleges Zajkowski and Mackey made a series of phone calls and sent texts, using police resources to learn the ownership of the vehicle the suspected undercover officer drove to the game in an effort to learn his identity. The calls were allegedly made at the request of Wedman and other co-conspirators.

Zajkowski and Mackey then provided the undercover officer's identity and the vehicle information to Wedman and others, according to the indictment. The vehicle was registered to the city of Wichita and was in service to the Police Department.