Tulsa Police Officers To Face Conspiracy Trial

Wednesday, March 30th 2011, 12:49 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A federal judge ruled there's adequate evidence to present at trial of a conspiracy among Tulsa Officers J.J. Gray, Harold Wells, Nick DeBruin and Bruce Bonham on May 18, 2009, to steal what they thought was drug money.

On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, a a federal judge held a hearing after attorneys for Wells, DeBruin and Bonham argued prosecutors didn't have enough evidence to prove a conspiracy.

Gray has pleaded guilty to stealing money and is awaiting sentencing.

Only one witness testified Wednesday - an FBI agent - and he focused on one day, May 18, 2009. That was the day the three officers are accused of conspiring to steal money from what they thought was a drug bust but was actually an FBI sting operation at a Tulsa motel with hidden cameras.

FBI agents staged a room with about $13,000 to look like drug money and used an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer named "Joker."

3/29/2011 Related Story: FBI Agent: Indicted Tulsa Officers Stole Money, Drugs

FBI Agent Kevin Legleiter, testified at Wednesday's hearing.

Agent Legleiter said the motel room was equipped with video and audio recordings, and that a citizen who was helping the FBI - Debra Clayton - let Officer J.J. Gray know "Joker" was in town.

Agent Legleiter testified Gray and Wells went into the room after talking to "Joker" and having him taken outside to a squad car.

He testified Wells said to Gray, "Nick said 'make sure and take care of him.'" The agent testified that the videotape showed Gray put a bundle of money into his pocket and said, "I took one."

Legleiter admitted Wells' back was turned when Gray took the money.

He testified Wells was never seen on tape taking money, but was heard saying, "Did you take care of us, too?"

He said that's when Gray grabbed a second bundle of cash.

He said other officers were driving around the parking lot, looking for "Joker's" car, to search it for drugs, since none were found in the motel room.

Other officers working the fake drug bust discovered a federal agent in the parking lot. Legleiter testified that made the officers accused in the conspiracy nervous that it was all a set up so they decided to turn in all the money to the property room .

However, on cross examination, he admitted the officers also thought perhaps the federal agent was actually there looking for a prostitute.

Legleiter testified Wells and Gray both told other people they'd found about $8,000 in the motel room, even though there was actually $13,000.

However, on cross examination, he admitted the tape never showed the officers counting the money and they could've been estimating the amount found.

Legleiter testified several officers left the motel and met at a Coney Island.

He testified that Eric Hill said Sergeant John McDowell told the group, all the money had to be turned in and accounted for.

He testified Hill said, DeBruin had given some money to Bruce Bonham and he had to get it back from him.

Legleiter testified all the money was turned into the property room except $200 which was given to "Joker" so he could leave town.

On cross examination, Legleiter admitted Bonham's name never came up in any phone calls concerning this drug bust, Bonham was never seen on video tape taking any money, and the only person who claimed Bonham had money was Eric Hill.

Legleiter admitted Hill was given immunity in exchange for his testimony, and Hill is an admitted thief and perjurer.

On cross examination, Legleiter admitted Hill's story about the Coney Island conversation was different than three other people who were there. Those other three people have not been charged with a crime and are not considered to be involved.

Defense attorneys questioned why he would believe the word of Hill over the other three men.

Defense attorneys pointed out there was no theft since all the money was turned in and accounted for and said, officers at the motel discussed using some of the money to take to a drug dog to see if the dog could detect the scent of drugs on the money.

Legleiter testified other officers tell him that taking a portion of the money to the drug dog would not be standard practice, but taking the full amount would be.

Legleiter testified Gray told him that he and Wells had an agreement to take money whenever an opportunity arose, involving drug proceeds, but, said Gray never had such an understanding with Nick DeBruin.

Attorneys for Wells, DeBruin and Bonham say their clients are innocent.

Jury selection begins for their trial on May 16th at 9 a.m.