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Officials Netted in Kansas Jail Bribery

A private company, MgtGP Inc., was awarded a $1.5 Million contract in 1997, and a four-year renewal in January 1997 worth $615,000 for that year alone, to run Kansas's Reno County Jail Annex. In May 2001, Reno's Sheriff, Larry Leslie, pled innocent to 34 counts of bribery. Also pleading innocent to bribing Leslie was MgtGP's co-founder and treasurer, Gerald Hertach. MgtGP was named as a defendant. Leslie and Hertach are free on a $300,000 bond.

Hertach had previously received a fee for renting and operating a dormitory at the State Fairgrounds where non-violent prisoners served their sentences. When the agreement with the fairgrounds ended, the county renovated a building next to the courthouse to serve as an annex to the jail. Leslie recommended MgtGP to county commissioners saying it would be cheaper than hiring more county employees.

According to state records, MgtGP was incorporated just 13 days before the county awarded the 1997 contract. MgtGP's annual report to the Kansas State Secretary states the company function is operating "a minimum security jail for the Sheriff of Reno County." Leslie, who earns $59,672 a year as Sheriff, accepted more than $280,000 from Hertach. Both maintain they did nothing wrong.

County commissioners awarded the MgtGP contract without accepting bids. The Commissioners say they were unaware of other companies seeking the contract, and it is not unusual to not seek bids on a professional services contract. They took Leslie at his recommendations, and are comfortable with the County's working relationship with MgtGP. That relationship is unique. No other Kansas County contracts with a private company to run part of its jail. MgtGP is still operating the annex. Leslie resigned as Sheriff in January and is awaiting trial.

Source: The Wichita Eagle .

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