Update: Sedgwick County Commissioner responds to federal investigation

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN has learned that a federal investigation involves Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was a state senator at the time, when the U.S. Department of Justice intercepted his cell phone conversations.

KSN News received a certified letter from the U.S. Department of Justice. Its purpose was to let us know that some conversations the station had with Michael O’Donnell were intercepted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The letter says that between June 3, 2015 and July 1, 2015, communication between O’Donnell and KSN were intercepted. It also sites legal statute that says that the federal authorities are required to notify us of this.

RELATED LINK | U.S. Code regarding wire and electronic communications interception and interception of oral communications 

The document lists Michael O’Donnell’s cell phone number. KSN regularly reaches out to O’Donnell through this cell phone number as part of our normal communication with elected officials.

At the time listed on the paperwork, O’Donnell was a state senator. He is now a Sedgwick County commissioner.

KSN reached out to several attorneys, to better understand what this paperwork means, and we also checked the federal statute.

Attorneys familiar with the subject matter say a judge must sign off on the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications.

RELATED LINK | Letter: Brandon Steven target of federal investigation

Attorneys also add that KSN or anyone getting the notification tell us that we would be getting the notification now, after the wire tap had been concluded.

“People were being notified they were being intercepted and that’s a requirement of the law,” said Attorney Stephen Joseph with the Joseph, Hollander, Craft Law Firm. “A call from you at this number, to this number was intercepted pursuant to a warrant authorized by a federal judge, and then it says don’t bother to call because we don’t know any more than this.”

Attorneys are not saying O’Donnell will be charged with a crime, or is considering being charged. They would only say he’s been the subject of a federal wiretap.

The notice says: “This notice does not mean that you are being charged in court with anything. This is simply a notice which the law requires we send to you. It only means that you, or someone using a telephone subscribed to you, were intercepted talking with a person using the telephone number listed above.”

KSN reached out to Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell to get his response on this information. KSN finally talked to him Wednesday morning at the county commission meeting.

“Obviously, everybody that I talked to during the month, well from June 3 to July 1, 2015, got a letter that they may or may not have had some interception by the Department of Justice.”

O’Donnell said he is aware of other wiretaps by the department in 2015, including one on Brandon Steven but said he won’t speculate on if they are connected, or part of the same investigation.

“But, I think everyone else sees other things going on in the community right now and putting, um connecting some dots, but as far as any type of involvement or idea of involvement that I might have, I don’t have a comment on that as things are sorting out.”

O’Donnell said he can’t comment on the investigation.

“Yeah, I haven’t spoken to anybody from the Department of Justice or the FBI about that letter so that’s why I really shouldn’t comment because I’ve never had any communication with them about it.”

O’Donnell says he has a lot of questions about what comes next.

“I definitely want to find out and will do whatever steps necessary to make sure that questions are answered.”

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