David Jungerman: Success in business, trouble with the law
A farm connected to the 81-year-old millionaire accused of fatally shooting a Kansas City attorney in 2017 filed for bankruptcy Thursday, a day after his attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit was sanctioned for allegedly violating a gag order.
Murder suspect David G. Jungerman’s daughter, Angelia Buesing, filed the bankruptcy for Jungerman Farm Corporation, estimating its assets between more than $1 million and $10 million.
The filing came a day after Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Harrell ordered Jungerman’s attorney, Nicole Forsythe, to pay $10,000 for her “bad faith” with respect to the gag order and months after Buesing was jailed when the judge held her in contempt of court.
This latest trouble comes as prosecutors prepare for Jungerman’s September trial, where he will face charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Police said Jungerman shot attorney Tom Pickert at his Brookside home a day after Jungerman was served with court papers from a $5.75 million lawsuit Pickert won against him.
The lawsuit Pickert won against Jungerman concerned a homeless man Jungerman had shot and injured at his warehouse in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood. Jungerman had shot and injured three other men in similar circumstances within a month in 2012.
A farmer and maker of baby furniture from Raytown, Jungerman accidentally recorded himself saying he killed Pickert within weeks of the shooting, police said. He also told an employee he got away with killing a lawyer, according to charging documents.
Pickert’s widow and family filed a lawsuit against Jungerman. As part of that suit, a Jackson County judge appointed the vice president of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners as an attorney to oversee Jungerman’s assets, which total $33 million.
Jungerman argued there was a conflict of interest in the appointment of Leland Shurin as a member of the board of police commissioners for the department that investigated the Pickert killing. Another attorney, Charlie J. Harris Jr., has since been appointed to oversee the assets, which include Jungerman’s companies and properties as well as assets owned by his daughter.
Judge Harrell said he wholeheartedly disagreed with “defendant’s unartful and unpersuasive arguments,” but granted the motion for independent reasons, according to court documents. The judge said Shurin performed his duties ethically.
Harrell found Forsythe violated “the spirit” of the gag order. She admitting to asking another attorney to discuss depositions, which would have violated the order, according to court documents. Forsythe has admitted to not cooperating with Harris, the judge said.
Forsythe’s attorney, Rick Johnson, said the judge did not expressly find she violated the order. He said he planned to seek a remedy through the Court of Appeals.
“We believe the order was entered erroneously and did not provide her adequate due process of law,” Johnson said.
Months earlier on Feb. 26, Harrell ordered Jungerman’s daughter jailed at the Jackson County Detention Center, setting her bond at $300,000 cash, when he found she refused to produce documents in the civil matter in a timely manner. At a hearing a week later, the judge said Buesing had “begun to cure her disclosure deficiencies” and ordered her released.
In a letter, Jungerman thanked the judge for releasing his daughter, who he said lived “a pure life for so many years” as a teacher.
The judge ordered Jungerman and other defendants, such as the farm corporation, the Jungerman Family Trust and Baby Tenda Corporation, which sells vintage-style baby furniture, in contempt of court. He said they had not produced all assets or bank records, among other things, and issued a penalty.
In November, Jungerman filed a motion requesting Harrell disqualify himself and transfer the case to “an impartial judge.” Jungerman filed the motion, he said in records, after he was forced to act as his own attorney because his funds were frozen.
Jungerman claimed the judge appeared to revert back to his “background as a prosecutor, crippling (Jungerman) from having any funds” to provide effective counsel by appointing Harris as the court-appointed receiver.
“This court is not looking for the truth,” Jungerman wrote in court filings. “It is only looking for ways for parasite lawyers to drain needed funds and keep the defendant from having the funds to protect himself from a false murder charge.”
Jungerman, upon advice of counsel, later withdrew motions he filed himself, which included the motion to disqualify Harrell.
At one point, Harrell denied Jungerman’s daughter’s motion to release frozen assets for payment of living expenses.
Jungerman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against making self-incriminating statements in responding to claims in the lawsuit.
In the pending criminal case, Jungerman’s attorney filed an order asking for him to be mentally examined. The findings were not publicly available.
A bond reduction hearing for Jungerman has been set for early June.