Kansas Senate leader charged with DUI, reckless driving, evading police, and driving down the wrong side of the highway

Gene Suellentrop
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop seen in the center of this 2015 photo.

  • Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop faces multiple charges, including DUI and evading police.
  • He was arrested earlier in March after 911 callers reported him driving the wrong way down the highway.
  • The new charges were announced Friday by Shawnee County DA Mike Kagay.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Republican and the majority leader of the state Senate, is facing a list of charges, including DUI, following his arrest in Topeka earlier in March.

Five charges were filed against Sullentrop Friday, including a felony count of evading police, the DUI charge, and a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. According to The Associated Press, Sullentrop turned himself in to authorities Friday afternoon and faces a $5,000 bond.

Mike Kagay, a Republican and the Shawnee County district attorney, announced the charges Friday. Kagay in a news release said Sullentrop was the only occupant of the SUV at the time of his arrest on March 16. Police used “tactical vehicle intervention” to bring Sullentrop to a stop, he said.

Neither Suellentrop nor his office immediately returned Insider’s request for comment.

The most serious charge – the felony count of evading police – can carry a prison sentence between five and seven months for a first-time offender, though it’s more likely he’ll face probation, according to The Associated Press.

Audio released by the Shawnee County Dispatch and published by the local news outlet KSNT showed several people called 911 to report they saw a white SUV driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-470 and eventually driving on I-70 around 12:45 a.m. on March 16, according to local media outlets.

Suellentrop, one of the top Republican lawmakers in the state, was driving for at least 11 minutes, according to the AP report.

The Capitol Police division of the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Suellentrop, 68, in downtown Topeka after “a short pursuit” in which officers discussed using stop-sticks on his SUV to slow down the vehicle, according to police audio published by KSNT.

The KHP said on Thursday it had no plans to release records regarding Sullentrop’s arrest because such reports weren’t required for DUI incidents, according to a previous Associated Press report.

According to the initial arrest report, Sulletntrop was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fleeing or attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer, speeding, and improperly crossing a divided highway, but a judge hours after his arrest released Sullentrop from jail and said police hadn’t provided enough evidence to substantiate the charges.

Many of Sullentrop’s duties as Senate majority leader have been taken over temporarily by Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, also a Republican, according to the report.

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Kansas Senate Majority Leader was arrested on suspicion of DUI after 911 callers said he drove the wrong way down a highway. A judge released him and said there wasn’t ‘probable cause.’

Gene Suellentrop
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop seen here in a 2015 photo.

  • Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Sullentrop was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
  • A judge granted his release from jail, saying police had no “probable cause to support” his arrest.
  • Multiple 911 callers reported he was driving the wrong way on a highway, local news media said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Sullentrop, a top Republican lawmakers in the state, on Tuesday was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence but was soon released from jail after a judge said she believed police didn’t have probable cause to make the arrest.

Audio released Tuesday by the Shawnee County Dispatch and published by the local news outlet KSNT-TV showed several people called 911 to report they saw a white SUV driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-470 and eventually driving on I-70 around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, local media outlets reported.

“They about hit me, but I’m OK. I’m fine,” one person said in the 911 call.

The Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Suellentrop, 68, in downtown Topeka after “a short pursuit” in which officers discussed using stop-spikes on his SUV to slow down the vehicle, according to police audio published by KSNT.

He faced charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fleeing or attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer, speeding, and improperly crossing a divided highway, according to an arrest record published by the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center.

Gene Suellentrop
This photo provided by the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka, Kan., shows Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita, after being booked for an arrest, Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The KHP did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Sullentrop was released from jail Tuesday morning, hours after he was arrested, by a judge who said he believed police did not have enough evidence to make the arrest.

“At this time, I do not find probable cause to support your arrest and detention based upon failure to include some pertinent information within in that law enforcement officer report,” Shawnee County District Court Judge Penny Moylan said during the hearing, according to KSNT. “As such, you’re going to be released at this time.”

Representatives for the KHP told the outlet it planned to submit a more in-depth report on the arrest, though it did not give a timeframe for that.

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson and Vice President Rick Wilborn, both Republicans, released a statement Tuesday about Sullentop’s arrest and subsequent release from jail.

“This morning, we all learned that Senator Suellentrop had been arrested and subsequently released without charges,” the statement read. “The underlying incident is certainly serious and very unfortunate. We will continue to pray for Gene and his family as we gather more information. The Senate continues to do our work on behalf of the people of Kansas.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat told reporters she expected this to “come back up again.”

“I don’t really want to comment on Sen. Suellentrop, but if you look at what the judge did, that’s pretty typical at a first hearing. If the paperwork is essentially not completed, and you look at the timeframe, I don’t think there was enough time to get all that paperwork done,” she said.

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