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Pawnee County sends bill to state for Colt probe
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LARNED — The Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office is asking the state to reimburse its expenses incurred in tracking down an escaped inmate from Larned State Hospital’s Sexual Predator Treatment Program last year.

A letter addressed to Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard and KDADS Deputy Secretary Scott Brunner sent to Topeka by the Pawnee County Commissioners has been received and acknowledged. Now local officials, including those at the PCSO, are waiting on the result.

On Jan. 9, Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King presented a listing of department expenses incurred during the search for John Freeman Colt, who escaped from the Sexual Predator Treatment Unit at Larned State Hospital on June 30. Colt was apprehended in Wayne County, Utah, by local authorities and the U.S. Marshals Service on Sept. 27, 2021.

Sheriff King told the Commissioners that, at minimum, the cost for the investigation and miscellaneous expenses totaled $17,696.66 for more than 661 hours logged by the PCSO detective assigned to the case and a trip to Utah to retrieve evidence used by Colt in the escape.

The Commissioners unanimously agreed to King’s request to invoice KDADS for the cost of the investigation. The prospect of reimbursement was not specifically broached as a topic of discussion at the KDADS officials meeting in Larned on Jan. 21, but conversations relating to precedent for the reimbursement did take place. A letter dated Jan. 25 was then drafted and sent to KDADS by the Commissioners.

Invoice precedent

In July 2014, Sheriff King presented the Commissioners with a reimbursement check from the state for $31,032. The amount covered expenses for transportation, medical treatment and housing for a past resident of the Sexual Predator Treatment Program and Larned State Hospital. The patient, Perry Isley Jr., had also escaped from the facility, on April 24, 1987 and again in August 2008. The minimum cost presented by King was $35 per day for a two-year period. Kansas Sen. Mitch Holmes and Pawnee County Attorney John Settle had testified that February about the local costs of transporting and housing such inmates, relating to sexually violent predators. The county pays costs related to prosecution/incarceration for crimes committed in the facility.

In situations where a patient is especially dangerous, the Pawnee County Sheriff issues a warrant to take the patient into custody, then transfer the patient to a capable jail facility.

Follow-up Monday

At Monday’s regular weekly meeting of the Pawnee County Commissioners, Sheriff King was on hand to request a press release be drafted and distributed to local media.

Sheriff King informed the commissioners that he had been called to a meeting the week before, but was unable to attend due to departmental concerns. He did say that he and Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir had been invited to meet with the Governor in Topeka on Feb. 10. “We’ll see if that happens,” King said.

The text of the letter follows:

“Secretary Howard and Deputy Secretary Brunner:

“On June 30th, 2021 John Colt escaped from the SPTP program at Larned State Hospital and more than five hours passed before local Law Enforcement was notified. This fact made the apprehension of John Colt exceedingly difficult, and therefore unreasonably burdensome for the Pawnee County Sheriff. It is for this reason that the Pawnee county Board of Commissioners is submitting the following expenses related to this case for reimbursement from the State of Kansas.

“Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King and his staff reacted in full force once they were notified and remained steadfast until the suspect was apprehended nearly three months later in Utah. Pawnee County expended an enormous amount of resources during this time, including having one deputy assigned as a liaison to the U.S. Marshals task force for the duration of the investigation. Additionally, a deputy was sent to Utah after the apprehension to recover evidence related to the case. Some of these costs have been itemized (please see attached pages) and the Board of Commissioners feels this is a fair sum to seek reimbursement for the citizens of Pawnee County. The sum of these charges is $17,696.66. While this nowhere near the full cost of the response by Pawnee County, it will help to cover some of the burden placed upon our county and our taxpayers.

“Pawnee County and the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with Larned State Hospital to ensure the safety of the LSH staff and the citizens of Pawnee County and the surrounding area.

“For the Pawnee County Board of Commissioners,


/s/ Robert H. Rein

Bob Rein

Vice chair Commissioner, District 3”