Thursday, May 7, 2009

Etheredge Wild West Founder Update

Thomas Etheredge may testify in hearing Friday

The Wichita Eagle

Wild West World founder Thomas Etheredge made his first Sedgwick County court appearance Monday.

Read the charges against Thomas Etheredge
WICHITA - Wild West World founder Thomas Etheredge is expected to testify Friday in his bond reduction hearing.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. before Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess.

Etheredge, 54, who faces 10 counts of securities fraud, will take the stand for "an hour or two," his attorney, Steve Joseph, said today in an e-mail.

In addition, Joseph said he's seeking permission for Etheredge to take the stand without restraints and in civilian clothing.

Etheredge remains in the Sedgwick County Jail on $1 million bond. The charges stem from his efforts to raise private investment capital from early 2005 to early 2007 for his struggling Western theme park.

Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs is alleging Etheredge failed to disclose material facts about the business and his past to private investors.

Joseph said earlier this week that the bond is too high, at the level of major felony charges such as murder.

The bond reduction hearing was originally scheduled for Friday morning but has been moved to allow court employees and lawyers to attend the funeral of Judge Harold Malone, who died Tuesday.

Wild West World opened in May 2007 and then closed in July and filed for bankruptcy. Etheredge was arrested April 29 at San Antonio International Airport.

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