Sheriff Asks For Grand Jury To Investigate Rogers County DA, 2 Commissioners

Monday, August 26th 2013, 5:12 pm
By: News On 6

Sheriff Scott Walton and five other Rogers County residents have filed a petition asking for a grand jury to investigate the district attorney, two commissioners and other county officials.

Walton filed the petition Monday morning. The petition names District Attorney Janice Steidley, Assistant District Attorneys Bryce Lair, David Iski and Timothy Wantland, as well as commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm.

Walton was joined in the petition by John Singer, Steve Cox, Russell Guilfoyle, Myron Grubowski and Billy Jones. Singer is an investigator for the Claremore Police Department where Cox is a sergeant. Guilfoyle and Grubowski are Claremore business owners.

The petition accuses the county officials of a variety of misdeeds. Most of the allegations are aimed at Steidley and her assistants. Those accusations range from conspiracy to commit witness tampering to attempting to obtain money by false pretenses. 

The allegations against Thacker and Helm involve bid splitting, as well as violating the County Purchasing Act against Helm and that Thacker used a county-owned bulldozer to dig a pond on property he was leasing.

Singer filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year against Steidley and Lair, saying the two tried to destroy his professional reputation.

Steidley and Iski sued the Claremore Progress earlier this year for libel. 

3/29/2013: Related Story: Rogers County DA Sues Claremore Newspaper For Libel

Steidley responded with this comment Monday afternoon:

"The allegations against our office are baseless and pathetic. My office and I have done nothing more than do our jobs, and we have been transparent in doing so.

"We will continue to do our jobs for the people of Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties, no matter the political pressure or ridiculous claims that are made."

County Commissioner Helm wasn't in his office.

Thacker said he just learned about the petition and hadn't had a chance to read it but said the allegations are baseless.

The presiding judge for Rogers County would have had four days to decide if the petition is valid. If he rules that is, the filers would then have to collect signatures of approximately 3,000 registered voters in Rogers County in order to get a grand jury seated.

However, all judges in the 12th District have recused themselves from dealing with the petition and the chief judge has asked the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court to name an outside judge to review it.

Read the 13-page grand jury petition filed Monday