Former Wichita police officer Michael Zajkowski pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of concealing a felony related to his participation in an illegal poker game.
Zajkowski’s participation in the underground poker ring was especially problematic after one of the organizers suspected that another person who began attending games might be an undercover cop.
Poker-Playing Officers Outed Undercover Cop
Brock Wedman, who helped recruit players for the illegal games, wasn’t feeling certain about one of the attendees. That’s when he turned to Zajkowski and fellow officer Bruce Mackey, asking them to look into the new player.
“Wedman did not know it, but a man he invited to play was a Wichita Police Department officer working undercover to investigate organized gambling,” US Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement released earlier this week. “When Wedman became suspicious, he found the undercover officer’s car and took down the license plate and VIN numbers.”
At that point, Zajkowski and Mackey were able to look into the vehicle and the mysterious player. They found out that the car was registered to the city of Wichita and was being used by the police department. They were also able to identify the undercover officer.
Wedman pleaded guilty earlier this week on a federal charge that he sought to expose the undercover officer. His sentencing hearing won’t take place until Aug. 1, with both prosecutors and his defense attorneys asking that he receive a year of probation.
On Wednesday, Zajkowski also entered a guilty plea, admitting to failing to report the illegal gambling as a part of his plea deal. Like in Wedman’s case, attorneys for both sides have recommended that he receive a year of federal probation, though he won’t be sentenced until Aug. 2. Mackey has already been sentenced to a year of supervised probation for his role in the scheme.
Six Charged in Federal Investigation
Those charges are part of a federal investigation into illegal gambling in the city that stretches all the way back to November 2011. So far, at least six people have been charged in connection with that investigation, most of which had some connection to the illegal poker ring.
Others charged include Daven “Smoke” Flax, a 46-year-old who was tasked with paying for the venues where the poker games were held and compensate the dealers and waitresses who worked during the games. He pleaded guilty in January to running an illegal gambling business.
Flax also worked as a bookie for Danny Chapman, who pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling business and tax evasion in January. According to his plea agreement, Chapman earned about $2,000 a day from an extensive sports betting operation, with federal law enforcement officials confiscating approximately $1.5 million in cash and valuables during their investigation.
Also caught up in the ring was former Highway Patrol trooper Michael Frederiksen, who was charged with lying to the FBI during the federal investigation. According to a report by Kansas.com, Frederiksen had claimed that one of the organizers of the poker games – someone he called 124 times in eight weeks – was his insurance agent.