Wild West World Founder Back In Wichita

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Sedgwick County deputies have returned the former owner of a failed amusement park to Kansas to face criminal charges.

The plane carrying Thomas Etheredge arrived in Wichita around 3 p.m. He was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail 40 minutes later. Etheredge's bond is set at $1,000,000.

Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs tells KAKE News that Etheredge is charged with 10 counts of securities fraud concerning Wild West World.

"The allegation is that he failed to disclose certain material facts about Wild West World and also made misrepresentations of the sale of about $800,000 worth of securities," Biggs said late Wednesday. "There is currently a $1,000,000 bond on the warrant from Sedgwick County District Court."

The investigation was done by the office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner in Wichita. Charges were filed with the cooperation of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, according to Biggs.

Thursday afternoon, Etheredge waived his right to an extradition hearing.

KAKE News also contacted Etheredge's attorney, Stephen Joseph, by phone Wednesday evening. Joseph said he knew of the lengthy investigation by Kansas State Securities officials that had been going on since 2007. But as of Thursday afternoon, Joseph said he still had not been contacted by any state authorities regarding the charges against his client.

This isn't the first time Etheredge has been in trouble for securities fraud. He served a little more than four years in prison for fraud convictions in the 1980's. Etheredge, however, promised Wild West World investors that he was a changed man and had found God.

Etheredge also had previously owned the highly successful Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper Club near Benton in Butler County. Once Wild West World went into bankruptcy, Etheredge was forced to sell the Prairie Rose assets to raise money for Wild West World.

The theme park remains dormant near the 77th Street exit on I-135 in Park City. All of the rides have been sold to other theme parks around the country. Only a few buildings and metal sheds remain.

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