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Former Grandview Mayor Stephen Dennis to enter court plea

Updated: 2014-02-11T17:55:46Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

Former Grandview Mayor Stephen S. Dennis is scheduled to appear in Kansas City federal court Tuesday to enter a plea to an unspecified criminal charge.

Dennis resigned suddenly and without explanation on Jan. 9 in the middle of his second term, surprising other officials. Later, city officials said federal investigators had interviewed them about Dennis’ work for a small nonprofit group, Matters of the Heart.

According to a docket released Monday afternoon, Dennis will first appear before a U.S. magistrate judge for a bond hearing. He then will move to a hearing before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs for what is known as a “waiver and plea.”

Generally in such hearings, a defendant waives his right to have the proposed charges presented to a federal grand jury for consideration and agrees to enter a plea, almost always “guilty,” to a criminal charge.

Such proceedings usually are preceded by extensive negotiations between prosecutors and defense lawyers. The docket does not suggest what the charge will be.

Dennis declined to comment when reached by phone early Monday night.

Dennis was re-elected in April, and his term was not set to expire until 2015. The Grandview mayor is paid $16,229 a year as a part-time job.

“This is, by far, the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make and the most difficult letter that I have ever had to compose, as I have lived my entire life in this city and have served over 13 years in elected office, the last three as Mayor,” he wrote in a resignation letter.

Attention quickly focused on Matters of the Heart, which Dennis had incorporated in 2011. In April, two Grandview aldermen learned that they had been listed by Dennis as directors of the charity.

On his election information, Dennis was listed as executive director of Matters of the Heart, which was set up to “be a local community outreach to the poor and disadvantaged through direct volunteer involvement in education, literacy programs, entrepreneurial training and business mentoring,” according to a description filed with the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

But the aldermen said they never were asked to serve as directors and knew nothing about the nonprofit.

The secretary of state’s office administratively dissolved Matters of the Heart in December 2012 because required paperwork had not been filed.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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