By Dan Bewley & Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Defense attorneys for Tulsa Police officers indicted in a corruption investigation claim the federal probe has put law enforcement behind bars while letting law breakers run free.
They've given the News On 6 exclusive access to audio tapes they say prove their case.
Federal prosecutors say this is a case of police officers taking measures into their own hands. But attorneys for the indicted officers say the case is not what it seems.
The indictments, filling 123 pages, were made public late Tuesday afternoon. Federal prosecutors say Bill Yelton, Jeff Henderson, Nick DeBruin, Ernest Bonham, and Harold Wells conspired to commit a number of crimes including stealing drug money and intimidating witnesses.
Attorneys for Officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton say their clients created an army of confidential informants to crack down on a deadly crime spree. And that same army has now turned against them.
"A lot of these confidential informants have seen it as a new opportunity," Tony Allen said. "Maybe they can get off, maybe they can get their friends off, maybe they can make money off it, maybe they can sue somebody."
Tony Allen, Bill Yelton's attorney, says the case is built on a weak foundation dealing almost entirely with confidential informants.
"These confidential informants are opportunists," Allen said. "I mean, they are criminals."
As an example, he says, of the 31 people listed in Henderson and Yelton's indictment as having their civil rights violated, a number of them are currently under investigation for other drug crimes.
One of the main confidential informants is a woman named Rochelle Martin. Federal prosecutors say Henderson and Yelton convinced her to lie on the witness stand about drug deals that never took place.
In an audio tape provided to the News On 6 by Yelton's attorney, Martin is talking to her boyfriend, DeMarrio Oates, in a jailhouse conversation about the heat she's taking from prosecutors.
"They wrong for doing that, they wrong for this ****," she said.
Oates tells Martin he's being pressured to get her to testify.
"I'm a dirty player in a dirty game. She ain't a dirty player," he said. "So what you want me to do? Ya'know?"
And at one point, Oates seems to tell her he will recant his testimony.
"They goin' be trying to put me on the stand or whatever then like **** if you don't want me to, then that's what I'm going to tell em I ain't goin' to no court if that's what it takes to prove to you then, I'm wit' it," he said.
In the same recording, Oates repeats what he says prosecutors have told him.
"You know if she don't get down with us than we're looking to prosecute her too," Oates said in the recording.
Yelton's attorney says that's enough to question why prosecutors have decided to file charges.
"The fact that they then rely on her affidavit to release a repeat offender criminal because they say, 'Well, Rochelle Martin says Jeff Henderson made her do it.' That seems a little bit fishy doesn't it?" Tony Allen asked. "I mean, I think that sounds weird."
The federal indictment accuses Jeff Anderson of giving Rochelle Martin a tape recorder and instructing her to record conversations with her boyfriend and grand jury witness, Demarrio Oates.