Terry Fox describes investment with Thomas Etheredge

Terry Fox describes investment with Thomas Etheredge

BY RON SYLVESTER - The Wichita Eagle - 6/22/2009
WICHITA Southern Baptist minister Terry Fox testified this morning about giving money to Thomas Etheredge for his failed Wild West World amusement park.

Etheredge is in his third day of a preliminary hearing on charges of securities fraud.

Fox said he and his wife gave Etheredge $50,000 in 2007 for the amusement park.

Fox said Etheredge offered to double their money by the year's end, after the park opened. Wild West World closed in bankruptcy after only two months of operation.

Fox said as a minister he was "blinded by" Etheredge's claim that he'd converted to Christianity.

"To us, that means a fresh start," Fox said.

Fox said Etheredge had mentioned a Kansas conviction and prison time, but the pastor wasn't concerned about the details.

Etheredge was tried and convicted of securities fraud in the 1980s. He served more than four years in prison.

Fox said he didn't know about Etheredge's similar convictions in Texas and Missouri.

Fox also said he didn't know that Etheredge had failed to pay his 2005 income taxes because Etheredge said he spent all of his money building the park.

Kansas Securities Commission Chris Biggs is trying to show Sedgwick County District Court Judge Ben Burgess that there's probable cause to go to trial on the charges against Etheredge.

Etheredge is charged with nine counts of securities fraud in Kansas stemming from his efforts to raise private capital for the theme park from 2005 to 2007.

Come back to Kansas.com for updates throughout the day or go to twitter.com/rsylvester for immediate updates.