Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Affidavits Released on Marion Newspaper Raids August 11


By Lucky Kidd


MARION, Kan.  — The probable cause affidavits connected with the August 11th raids on the Marion County Record have been released. The Kansas Reflector and other media outlets began releasing the documents Sunday.

The affidavits, which were file stamped as filed with Marion County District Court the morning of Monday, August 14th, outline the basis Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody cited in obtaining the search warrant from Marion County Magistrate Judge Laura Vian. The affidavits also state he was assisted in the investigation by Marion County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Christner.

Each of the affidavits had some common information, with specific information related to specific targets including and in addition to the paper the homes of publisher Eric Meyer and Marion City Council member Ruth Herbel.

Chief Cody said he had attended a “meet and greet” at Kari’s Kitchen August 1st, where Kari’s Kitchen owner Kari Newell asked him to remove Record publisher Eric Meyer and reported Phyllis Zorn from the event. This was the event where Congressman Jake LaTurner was present. Newell also owns another restaurant for which she is seeking a liquor license. A prior DUI conviction on her record may prevent her from receiving that license.

On the evening of August 4th Chief Cody received an email from Meyer, in which he stated he had received a copy of someone’s private Kansas Department of Revenue records, which Meyer indicated might have involved police misconduct.

On the morning of Monday August 7th, the chief contacted Marion City Administrator Brogan Jones and told him an internal investigation should be conducted. Jones told the chief he was already aware of the matter because he had been sent a screenshot via email of the record of Kari Newell by Herbel. The email in question indicated Herbel received the record from an identified 3rd party.

Jones told Chief Cody Herbel wanted to deny a renewal of Newell’s liquor/catering license based on the DOR record. That item was on the August 7th Marion City Council Agenda, and the council approved the renewal 4-1 with Herbel voting no.

Chief Cody then contacted Newell, who said she did not know how someone was able to access her email and she gave no one permission to obtain, access or open her private mail. His investigation determined the document in question was downloaded from the Department of Revenue, after which Newell said she did not download that information or authorize anyone else to do so, and asserted her identity had been stolen.

On August 9th the Marion County Record ran a story about the August 7th meeting, which was written by Eric Meyer and headlined “Restaurateur accuses paper, councilwoman,” which contained Newell’s allegation the Record illegally obtained her KDOR information. Eric Meyer told the chief the information came from a source who had bragged about retaining connections despite no longer working in law enforcement.

The affidavit for the newspaper office said KDOR advised that Newell’s information had been accessed by Zorn and someone stating they were Kari Newell.

The Record verified the information the source claimed was from a public website, but never ran a story about it. The affidavit said the story said a councilwoman received the information and added it collaborates a witness statement Ruth Herbel obtained “protected Kansas Department of Revenue information by social networking.”

The Record affidavit also recounted a phone conversation between Eric Meyer and Kari Newell, during which Meyer admitted Zorn had downloaded the record information and that was why no story was going to be published. It also said Meyer threatened Newell, saying “If you pursue anything I will print the story and will continue to use anything I can to come at you. I will own your Restaurant.”

The affidavit seeking the search warrant on Herbel’s residence also included an email from Jones to Marion Mayor David Mayfield and City clerk Janet Robinson, which stated in part “First I want to state that the Chief/PD will not be looking into this. Secondly the State is the oversight for this and will conduct all this type of research. We as a city need to stay off the “hear say” or whatever else you want to call it.”

The affidavit for the home of Herbel asserted the crimes of identity theft and official misconduct, while that for the Record and for the home Eric Meyer shared with his mother, Joan Meyer, who passed away one day after the search warrants were executed, asserted the crimes of identity theft and unlawful acts concerning computers. It stated “it is common knowledge Eric Meyer works from his residence” as the basis for searching his home.