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Police chief who raided Marion newsroom sent text to county DA saying KBI is '100% behind me'

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Posted at 3:02 PM, Dec 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 23:31:38-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Text messages obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team reveal Gideon Cody claimed the Kansas Bureau of Investigation was "100 percent behind" him one day after the raids on Marion County Record and two homes.

The text messages, provided by a source and independently verified by KSHB 41, are between Cody and Joel Ensey, Marion County Attorney, who revoked Cody's warrants within days following the raids.

COMPLETE COVERAGE | Marion newspaper raid

On Aug. 9, two days before the raids, Cody sent Ensey a text: "Call me when you can this morning. KBI will be lead in the investigation. I sent them a brief and they are sending out investigators. Other charges are coming with this as well. I want to keep you in the loop."

Cody continued, "It appears larger than when I looked at first."

On Aug. 12, one day after the raids, Cody sent Ensey another text message: "Joel, KBI just called. They told me [they] are 100% behind me and we did things exactly as it should have been done. They reached out to me. I didn't call. Their number two will be calling me."

Ensey responded, "Ok. Thank you."

Cody sent another response: "They want to use an independent lab not affiliated with [the] government for forensics, and they appear to be taking this case over. I will let you know."

Ensey responded, "Ok."

On Friday, the KSHB 41 I-Team sent an email to Melissa Underwood, spokeswoman for KBI, asking her to respond to Cody's claims in his text messages to the county attorney.

The I-Team also left a voicemail for Underwood later in the day.

Neither were returned.

Since the Aug. 11 raids on Marion County Record and two homes, KBI has downplayed its level of involvement.

In October, in response to a lawsuit filed against Cody by a Marion County Record reporter, Cody claimed KBI knew he was seeking a warrant to search the newsroom.

On Oct. 4, the I-Team sent an email to Underwood asking if the agency knew about the warrants ahead of time.

Underwood responded, "We will answer your question, but because it requires a detailed response, it is inappropriate for us to address until our investigation concludes. I will follow up with you so you know when we can take additional inquiries. Hope you understand."

Emails obtained by the I-Team through a records request in November reveal KBI did know police planned to raid the home of Eric Meyer, owner of the newspaper.

One day before the raids, Todd Leeds, KBI special agent, sent an email to a Marion police officer. He wrote, "Did you guys execute this today?"

The police officer responded, "No. My understanding is that the county attorney wasn’t in the office today.”

The subject of that email is, "Additional SW for Eric Meyer's Residence."

The I-Team has not obtained text messages directly from Gideon Cody's cell phone.

Jennifer Hill, who represents Cody and the city of Marion, denied a separate I-Team request for Cody's records despite state law that makes the records open to the public.

On Wednesday, Hill sent the I-Team a second denial for the records, saying, "[Cody] and his personal cell phone have left the state of Kansas."

While the KSHB 41 I-Team has received tips about where Cody currently lives, Hill did not confirm this information when asked.

Hill did confirm Cody did not use a work cell phone to send text messages.