TOPEKA, KAN. – A Kansas building contractor was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison and fined $25,000 for conspiring to deprive the city of Lawrence of sales tax revenues in connection with the development of a seven-story hotel adjacent to the University of Kansas campus. After completing his sentence, the defendant will serve three years on supervised release.
Thomas S. Fritzel, 54, Lawrence, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy. Fritzel, part owner and manager of Oread Inn LC, was a party to an agreement with the city to finance the more than $40 million hotel project, including $11 million worth of street repairs and a public parking garage.
Oread Inn LC was to pay all costs up front and to be repaid $11 million for public improvements. The money to repay Oread Inn LC was to come from an incremental increase in property tax, a sales tax and an additional 1 percent tax on sales within a portion of the redevelopment district.
In his plea, Fritzel admitted that he and others caused false monthly Kansas sales tax returns to be submitted to the state of Kansas. The reports classified certain sales as occurring within the redevelopment district when in fact they occurred outside the district. As a result, the city of Lawrence lost a portion of sales taxes it was due.
The city of Lawrence filed a civil lawsuit against Fritzel seeking the lost revenue and the parties settled that case in 2017.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard commended the FBI, the Lawrence Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Hathaway for their work on the case.