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Partner’s son helped reduce charge for future Rep. Marshall

June 23, 2020 GMT

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A local prosecutor who was the son of one of Roger Marshall’s business partners helped the future western Kansas congressman and U.S. Senate candidate reduce a misdemeanor reckless driving conviction in 2008 to a conviction for a less serious traffic infraction.

The reckless driving charge against Marshall, a Great Bend obstetrician, arose from a May 2008 confrontation with another man who owns land near a hospital and surgical center in which Marshall has an ownership stake, The Kansas City Star reports. The other man, Randy Suchy, accused Marshall of hitting him with his pickup after an inspection of flooding, while Marshall denied any contact.

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The case arose briefly as an issue when Marshall first ran successfully for Congress in 2016. With Marshall now seeking the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, his main opponent in the Aug. 4 primary, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has called on him to release a sealed affidavit in the case that details why prosecutors believe they had probable cause to charge Marshall with reckless driving. Marshall’s camp has not done so.

Marshall initially was charged with both battery and reckless driving, both misdemeanors, but the county attorney’s office dropped the battery charge. Marshall negotiated with prosecutors and pleaded no contest to the reckless driving charge. District Judge Don Alvord sentenced Marshall to five days in jail but suspended the sentence, imposed a $150 fine and ordered him to pay $75 in court costs.

The formal court record of the plea and sentence dated Dec. 11, 2008, was signed by Marshall, his attorney, Assistant County Attorney Carey Fleske and the judge. Then, on Dec. 24, 2008, Fleske asked another district judge, Mike Keeley, to issue an order normally used to correct the court record to change the charge to a traffic infraction, failure to exercise due care in regards to a pedestrian, with a $45 fine. Keeley approved the request.

Fleske, now a Kansas City-area defense attorney, is the son of Leonard T. Fleske, a Great Bend orthopedic surgeon who in 2000 founded a surgical center with Marshall and other physicians. Business records show Marshall and a living trust named for the elder Fleske’s wife both had ownership stakes of 9.4 percent at the time of the 2008 case.

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Carey Fleske said his father’s connection didn’t influence the case. Marshall spokesman Eric Pahls also dismissed the connection as irrelevant, saying in a statement that when someone has lived in a rural Kansas town for three decades as Marshall has, “you’re going to know most everyone.”

Keeley recalled in an interview that he had been told by the county attorney’s office and Marshall’s defense attorney that the intent had been for him to plead to the lesser charge but “it got typed up the other way.”

Suchy also filed a lawsuit against Marshall in 2009 over the incident, but they settled that case out of court on undisclosed terms.

“I don’t hold any hard feelings or grudges. It’s all water under the bridge,” Suchy said.