Edgerton City Councilman Arrested for Felony Aggravated Assault – JoCo District Attorney Downgrades to 2 Misdemeanor Charges

Edgerton City Councilman, Joshua Beem, was arrested on September 1, 2023, for a 21-5412(b) Aggravated Assault Charge – a level 7 felony charge, as shown in the Johnson County Booking report.

Residents are curious as to why the Johnson County court page is now instead showing two charges 21-5803(a) Criminal Deprivation of Property and 21-6308a Firearm Discharged in a City – both of which only carry a misdemeanor penalty – with no mention of the felony charge.

The difference is substantial regarding eligibility for Mr. Beem to continue serving in public office.

Kansas Statute 21-6613(a) provides that “A person who has been convicted in any state or federal court of a felony shall, by reason of such conviction, be ineligible to hold any public office under the laws of the state of Kansas.” Eligibility to hold public office is restored upon completion of the terms of the felony sentence.

A concerned Edgerton resident, who chose to remain anonymous, reached out to Free State News on September 4th regarding the charges, stating they had confirmed with the Johnson County Election Office, that if convicted, Mr. Beem would be ineligible to serve on the Edgerton City Council.

Free State News reached out to the Kansas Secretary of State Office, and Bryan Caskey, State Election Director, confirmed the information as well, adding that they were not the first ones to reach out to him regarding eligibility. No details were provided as to who else may have contacted him for an opinion, but concerned citizens are afraid that someone within the City of Edgerton played a role in using their connections to modify the severity of the charges in order to keep Mr. Beem on the council.

Residents claim these concerns are not unfounded, stating that in October 2021, someone within the City orchestrated for Mr. Beem to rent a vacant home directly from Hillsdale Land and Cattle, a subsidiary of NorthPoint Development, the City’s largest developer, in order to continue living in the city limits to keep his seat on the council.

This came only months after the home was annexed into the city limits illegally and rezoned to logistics parks, against the opposition of hundreds of surrounding homeowners. Mr. Beem had voted to approve the annexation in December 2020, but he voted against the rezonings in April 2021.

Less than 6 months after the rezoning passed, residents sighted workers bringing in a propane tank, connecting utilities, and installing an HVAC system in the home. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Beem was seen moving into the home and a very large “Donald Roberts for Mayor” banner was put in the yard along with smaller “Roberts for Mayor” and “Lewis for Council” signs, just prior to the November 2021 mayoral and city council election.

When pressed by Councilwoman Josie Stambaugh as to how Councilman Beem had access to a NorthPoint representative to orchestrate the arrangement, no one within the City would respond.

Residents were livid as they called the Kansas Ethics Commission, news outlets, and government officials regarding bribery concerns.

When the issue was addressed at the Edgerton City Council in January 2022, city attorney, Lee Hendricks, claimed that city officials had no knowledge of the matter until Councilwoman Stambaugh reached out to the mayor (pg 12) via letter on January 12, 2022, prior to the first NorthPoint Development vote after Beem’s occupancy. No mention was given as to who Donald Roberts received permission from to display the campaign banners back in October 2021.

In the January 13, 2022 council meeting, Hendricks claimed that the city had requested a copy of the lease, which was never released to the public as requested, and that the matter was not considered a substantial interest in NorthPoint Development since Mr. Beem did not receive any compensation from NorthPoint Development or its affiliates.

It was unclear how no one in the city was aware of the rental property until it was brought to light months after occupancy by Stambaugh.

Residents assumed that no residential property would be allowed to be rented within the city limits without a rental permit and code inspection prior to occupancy, specifically since the house had sat vacant for over two years prior to the rental and had been rezoned to warehouse industrial zoning after being vacant. In addition, the Edgerton Industrial Zoning District does not allow residential living as one of the permitted uses.

Councilwoman Stambaugh called attention to the lack of transparency and the possibility of bribery and called for the recusal of Mr. Beem on any future votes regarding NorthPoint Development or any of its affiliates.

The minutes of the January 13, 2022 council meeting give an account of the discussion. The summary was that Attorney Hendricks claimed it was unnecessary for Beem to recuse himself on any votes.

Johnson County Commissioner, Shirley Allenbrand, also addressed the matter during that timeframe, claiming that she had put a team of lawyers on researching the incident when approached by Councilwoman Stambaugh. Commissioner Allenbrand claimed that the Kansas Ethics Commission confirmed that Councilman Beem had no substantial interest in NorthPoint Development and therefore had no substantial interest disclosures on campaign finance reports that needed to be filed.

All government entities involved refused to address the residents’ concerns of potential bribery for future votes and conflicts of interest that arise from a councilman voting on projects for his landlord.

Residents were specifically concerned about bribes since Councilman Beem had voted no on the very important April 2021 rezoning requests by the developer, which included the house he would go on to live in. Residents viewed this rental arrangement as an attempt to bribe Councilman Beem back into voting in their favor since that was his first vote ever against the developer in his history on the council. Residents pointed out that there was still one more property in the group that required a super-majority vote of 4 out of 5 councilmembers, but the developer removed it from the rezoning vote, since at the time, they were only receiving 3 votes of approval on the other properties east of Gardner Road.

Instead, all government officials involved continually ignored the term bribery and repeatedly used the term no substantial interest of compensation or serving on the developer’s boards.

In an ironic twist of fate, this home is in the same group of properties the Kansas Attorney General recently filed a lawsuit against the City of Edgerton for, claiming they used an illegal narrow corridor to annex the property into the city limits and that the property should revert to the original unincorporated Johnson County designation. Had this property not been illegally annexed, Mr. Beem would not be facing the second of the two charges- discharging a firearm in the city limits.

However, residents claim that had the home never been annexed into the city limits, then Councilman Beem would never be living there, since a condition of being a councilman is to live within the city limits.

Free State News reached out to the District Attorney’s Office and had not received an answer as to why the charges were modified as of the time of publishing. Updates will be added as they unfold.

Until then, residents are very curious as to why there appears to be a trend of the Prosecutor dismissing charges such as multiple “drive while suspended” charges, labeled repeatedly as “first offense.”

*Edit September 12, 2023, 2:10pm
A representative from the Johnson County District Attorney’s office called with an answer to the question, “Why would the charges be changed?”

The District Attorney conveyed the message that sometimes a person is booked under certain charges based on what the officer saw at the time. However, once it gets to their office, the charges are based on what they can actually charge given the circumstances. No other details were provided on this specific case.

When it was mentioned that this is not the first time the prosecutor has dismissed repeated “1st offense” charges for this individual, the representative was unsure what deals may have been made on those.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *