GREG LOWER

The filing of misdemeanor theft charges against a Chanute police officer took several years to file in order to avoid special treatment or conflicts of interest among officials, Neosho County Attorney Linus Thuston said.

Recently filed misdemeanor theft charges against Chanute officer Gary Allen stem from a 2015 theft report, Thuston said, and the charges filed by a special prosecutor followed an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Thuston emphasized that Allen is innocent until proven guilty. Allen is scheduled for a first appearance on the charges May 21 before Allen County Magistrate Judge Tod Davis. Allen has been suspended with pay since January.

The thefts allegedly took place when Allen was involved with a fundraising poker run for the Larry Roberts Memorial Fund in 2014. Thuston said the first time questions were raised was in 2015, after a burglary was reported at Allen’s home.

Customary procedure in cases involving a law officer is for an outside agency to investigate, and Chanute Police Chief Raymond Hale requested the Iola Police Department handle the case.

The initial investigation ended without conclusive findings, and Thuston said he did not receive a report at that time. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was involved in other cases in the area and was asked to investigate, but declined because of its caseload.

Thuston said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also asked, and initially accepted but later declined. The KBI finally began investigating in 2018.

Thuston said the KBI did not question the Iola PD investigation but found additional information.

Thuston also said that he and his deputy attorney had participated in the 2014 memorial fundraiser, which could be a possible conflict of interest. He said the case did not meet the criteria for the Kansas Attorney General’s office, and he also went to other county attorneys.

Columbus attorney Robert Myers, who has acted as a special prosecutor in unrelated cases, was appointed in the Allen case.

Thuston said the only thing different in Allen’s case was the means by which the summons was served. He said 80 to 90 percent of misdemeanor thefts are handled by a summons, and Allen received the summons personally instead of by certified mail.

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