For more than a year, former Lee’s Summit assistant city manager Daren Fristoe has remained publicly silent on the stealing charge that forced him to resign.
Fristoe was charged in November 2014 with stealing nearly $121,000 from Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair, where he was executive director prior to joining the city manager’s office in 2013. He resigned from the city the following month.
Fristoe was accused of making unauthorized use of accounts in 2012 to pay personal debts such as telephone accounts, credit cards and a personal loan.
On Wednesday, a day after the charges were dismissed in Jackson County Circuit Court, Fristoe thanked his family and friends for their support.
More than 20 people wrote letters to the prosecutor’s office on Fristoe’s behalf and offered to be character witnesses at his trial.
“I thank my wife, family and friends for all their support,” Fristoe said in an email letter to the Lee’s Summit Journal. “My wife (Jody Fristoe) especially, for she has suffered as much or more than me.”
Jody Fristoe resigned as executive director of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street last August. It is not known if Jody Fristoe’s resignation had any connection with her husband’s case.
Michael Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, said that after consulting with the alleged victims in the case, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges after Daren Fristoe fulfilled certain requirements.
“Most notably, the defendant agreed to pay full restitution,” Mansur said in an email. “Therefore, once all requirements were met, our office dismissed the case.”
Daren Fristoe called the legal process long and emotionally draining.
“Even though my attorney (Dan Miller) believed in my innocence, he instructed me to remain silent,” Daren Fristoe said. “It was unbearable to refrain from publicly declaring my innocence and explaining my side of the story.
“I … still laugh when I recall (Fristoe’s legal team) telling me that it is more difficult to defend an innocent person because they have higher expectations.”
Miller said he believed in Fristoe’s innocence from the start.
“I had been a prosecutor for 17 years, and before that I was a public defender for six years,” Miller said. “I have tried over 175 jury trials. I have prosecuted and defended capital murder cases. I have interviewed thousands of witnesses and defendants.
“I could tell after 15 minutes with Daren Fristoe that he didn’t steal a penny from anyone.”
Fristoe added that he is ready to move past the accusations.
“This nightmare is now a speed bump in my rearview mirror,” he said. “Lee’s Summit has always been my home, and my hometown did not turn its back on me. I resolve to get involved more than ever.”