MARION COUNTY, Kan. — On Tuesday morning, the KSHB 41 I-Team continued its investigation into three raids, one of which took place at a Kansas newspaper, by paying a visit to the Marion police chief.
Chief Gideon Cody, the man behind the badge, who's behind Friday's raid on the Marion County Record, declined to comment when the I-Team showed up at his office saying, "Do you realize how angry KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigations) will be at me if I start talking about their case at this point?"
While KBI took over the investigation Monday, Chief Cody's name is on the affidavit seeking the warrant.
Bernie Rhodes, a Kansas City attorney representing Marion County Record, claims Cody is at the center of all of it.
"Can he spell hypocrisy? This was his affidavit. His investigation and his search," Rhodes said. "He (Cody) drove to the house to personally search the house of a 98-year-old who had nothing to do with this. A woman who died the next day."
Rhodes arrived Tuesday at the newspaper's offices, wheeling a briefcase behind him. On the way in, he stopped at a memorial created on the sidewalk for Joan Meyer, the co-publisher of Marion County Record, who died one day after police raided her home.
After the raid, Cody took to Facebook to defend the search and seizure saying, "the justice system that's being questioned will be vindicated."
When the I-Team asked why Cody didn't issue a subpoena instead, Cody continued to refer questions to KBI.
Over the weekend, Rhodes sent a scathing letter to the chief demanding no one view the seized items.
By Monday, KBI took over the case.
"We are presently reviewing prior steps taken in the case and working to determine how best to proceed with the case," KBI's spokesperson told the I-Team. "Once our thorough investigation concludes, we will forward all investigative facts to the prosecutor for review."
Rhodes sees the change in leadership as a positive change in the case.
"Potentially a promising sign that we’re going to have someone else involved who will handle this rationally and not be the big town bully," Rhodes said.
As for the equipment, Rhodes told the I-Team one of the items has a tracker on it and he's been monitoring the movement. Rhodes said he thinks he knows where the items are, but did not divulge that information.
Rhodes did tell the I-Team where the seized property is not.
"It is not with the Marion Police Department," Rhodes said. "That would not be good news."
The I-Team asked Rhodes if authorities knew he was tracking the equipment, Rhodes said, "They do now."
How it began
Prior to the raid Marion County Record received a tip about a local restaurant owner's driving record.
A staff member used a state website, and used her own information, to verify the tip.
Instead of publishing a story, Eric Meyer, the owner of the paper, called Marion PD.
"A week later, they (police) showed up at our doors and seized our computers," Meyer told the I-Team Monday.
When staff returned to the building, computers, cellphones and documents were gone.
Staff also tells the I-Team they were read their Miranda rights.
"There was a crime committed," Rhodes said. "The crime was being a reporter. That’s the only crime shown in the affidavit."
The criminal allegation in this case is identity theft.
Rhodes, who's an expert in media law of 40 years, said he's never had to defend a newsroom because of a police raid.
"It is the ultimate act of a local tyrant preventing a local newspaper from exposing the truth," Rhodes continued. "Because we have a constitution. Apparently, the constitution doesn't apply to chief Cody."
According to the newspaper and Rhodes, staff at Marion County Record were also investigating Cody for tips they received based on his time as a captain at Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
As for refusing to answer questions about the raid, Rhodes said Cody, "Has a duty to the public, to the people who pay his salary, to explain his actions."