Probe of Poker Player Also Involves Wiretapping of Cops

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  • Brandon Steven revealed back in February that he was under an FBI probe
  • Two police officers and a commissioner have had their homes searched as part of investigation
  • FBI confirmed to local newspaper it had intercepted two separate phone calls they had with Steven and Commissioner Michael O’Donnell
  • O’Donnell says he has no idea what investigation is about

A successful poker player and car dealership owner in Wichita, Kansas has been the subject of an FBI investigation for more than two years.  Brandon Steven believes the matter has something to do with a failed casino project he was once involved with but can’t be 100 percent sure.

”They are looking into my poker and my involvement with Castle Rock Casino,” the high stakes poker pro advised the media earlier in the year.

The FBI has refused to comment on the matter other than to confirm “a lawful presence” at several homes in the Wichita area.

Two police officers and a local commissioner have since had their homes searched and details remain as murky as ever.

The Wichita Eagle has been on top of this story since Steven first admitted to being subject of the investigation.  In an ironic twist, the Wichita Eagle itself learned that two separate phone calls it once had with Steven and Sedgwick County commissioner Michael O’Donnell were intercepted by the FBI in 2015.

From the Eagle:

What’s new is sources’ confirmation in recent days that the federal investigation involves at least two Wichita police personnel. The confirmation provides a direct link between the federal investigation and the police personnel.

What’s not clear is why the police personnel were investigated or their current status.

Wichita police Capt. Doug Nolte, in charge of the department’s professional standards unit, said Monday that he can’t comment.

Both officers have been put on leave, a result of what the department says “possibly involves misconduct by department members”.  Not until recently did the Eagle learn that this matter was tied to the Brendan Steven probe.

Commissioner O’Donnell expressed surprise over the investigation.

The investigation also included wiretaps of two other Wichita men – Danny Chapman and Daven Flax, according to records obtained by The Eagle.  Five of their phone calls with the Eagle were also intercepted.

In addition to being a partner in Genesis Health Club Management LLC and co-owning area car dealerships, Steven and a group of investors also purchased the building that happens to house the Wichita Eagle newspaper.

Letters provided to the paper earlier in the year read: “This notice does not mean that you are being charged in court with anything,” says the letter, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith. “This is simply a notice the law requires we send you,” it says. “It only means that you, or someone using a telephone subscribed to you, were intercepted talking with a person using the telephone listed above.”

Steven has won just over $3 million in live poker tournaments, including one played in Vegas since reports of the probe first surfaced He finished 4th at Aria Super High Roller 17 in April, taking home $48,000.

- Nagesh Rath,

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