Watercress developer LewJene Schneider convicted of theft and criminal damage

WICHITA — Watercress developer and lawyer LewJene Schneider was convicted of theft and criminal damage in Maize Municipal Court on Wednesday.

The charges stem from a long-running dispute that Schneider has with Fiddler’s Cove developer Bob Scott over real estate signs.

In February, Scott told Have You Heard? that he placed directional signs on city property by the Watercress development near 37th and Maize Road in order to help people find Fiddler’s Cove, which is accessible only through Watercress.

Scott says he complained to police when the signs began disappearing and eventually started calling daily to complain. Finally, he says, police used a surveillance camera in September to figure out that Schneider took the signs.

Lawyer Jess Hoeme, who is representing Schneider along with Steve Joseph, says his client contacted the city of Maize several times regarding the signs, which he says Scott placed illegally.

“No one from the city of Maize ever removed them,” Hoeme says.

“Bob Scott, the victim, admitted that he did not have permission to put those signs on Watercress property, nor did he have permission to put them on city property,” Hoeme says. “He just did it.”

Scott says it was “common practice” for people to put up signs without permission.

“Doesn’t make it right, but everyone was doing it – primarily LewJene,” he says.

Hoeme says the judge didn’t rule on whether Scott placed the signs legally or not. He only ruled on Schneider removing them.

“The judge doesn’t believe that even if those signs were unlawfully placed on her property that she had the right to remove them,” Hoeme says.

Schneider received a two-month jail sentence, which will be suspended upon payment of $214 in restitution to Scott, $250 for each of the convictions and $100 in court costs. She has 14 days to appeal the ruling to the Sedgwick County District Court.

“We certainly encourage her to do so,” Hoeme says.

He says the case has wider implications for Maize residents.

“Given that this is a campaign season, I think that it’s important for people (in) Maize to know that if somebody puts a sign on your property or on city property in front of your house, the city of Maize believes you don’t have the right to remove that sign,” Hoeme says.

Scott is satisfied with the judge’s ruling.

“I was just delighted the way it turned out,” he says.

“I am not a fighter. I hate to have conflict, but this has gone on long enough.”