Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson, the special prosecutor appointed nearly three months ago to determine whether to file a criminal charge against Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas after he negotiated a deal with developers, continues to examine the case.
Thompson wrote in a Thursday email that he “doesn’t have updates at this time” but that he could supply updates every two to three weeks.
“There are a few extra moving parts that I can’t really comment on,” he wrote.
Thompson was unable to provide details about how much longer his investigation would take and whether this is a “normal” timeline for these types of cases.
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight filed a motion in April for a special prosecutor after receiving a “charge request” from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. Knight’s reason for the motion was his friendship with Thomas’ mother-in-law and father-in-law, Axie Hindman and the late Darwin Hindman. He also noted that as a councilman, Thomas has influence over the Columbia Police Department, with which his office has a close working relationship.
The Sheriff’s Department got involved after the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, following up on two complaints filed by Columbia residents, asked Sheriff Dwayne Carey to investigate.
Boone County Presiding Circuit Judge Kevin Crane appointed Thompson to be the special prosecutor in late April.
In November 2018, Thomas reported his activities to the Missouri Ethics Commission, saying he’d organized an agreement with developers Shannon Sapp and Justin Barnes.
The agreement would have required them to donate $40,000 to the Columbia Community Land Trust, an affordable housing group. In exchange, Thomas would support the annexation, zoning and development plans for Sapp and Barnes’ proposed Oakland Crossings neighborhood.
Thomas and the developers nixed the agreement after Housing Programs Manager Randy Cole and City Counselor Nancy Thompson noted it as potentially illegal.
Thomas may have violated Section 105.452 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, despite calling off the agreement. The statute prohibits public officials from taking official actions in exchange for any payment or promise of payment of anything of value, even to a third party, according to previous Missourian reporting.
When asked whether he could comment on the “moving parts” Thompson referred to or if he could give any additional updates, Thomas said Tuesday that he had heard nothing from Thompson or anyone else.