By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A federal judge ruled Friday evening to keep two indicted Tulsa police officers behind bars until trial. Officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton are in jail as part of a corruption investigation.
The two veteran Tulsa police officers are facing a string of federal charges, from drug possession to intent to sell, to tampering with federal witnesses and perjury.
The hearing was so packed that the proceedings were delayed until they could find a larger courtroom. The crowd was very upset when the judge made his ruling, yelling at the U.S. attorney and wondering how the judge could take the word of convicted felons.
Leaving the courthouse, defense attorneys were still reeling.
"They were very upset, and justifiably so based on the judge's ruling that he's going to detain Officer Henderson up until his trial. That could be 90, 100, 120 days behind bars. That's a shock," said Chad Greer, Defense Attorney.
Officer Jeff Henderson and his former partner, Bill Yelton, will remain in jail.
Federal prosecutors argued that if Henderson and Yelton were let go, they would try to obstruct justice by intimidating or tampering with witnesses.
7/20/2010 Related Story: U.S. Attorney's Office: Two Indicted TPD Officers A Threat To Community
An FBI agent detailed five instances when Yelton or Henderson threatened confidential informants or federal agent Brandon McFadden.
"That's all that they have at this point. That's all we've heard: snitches, confidential informants with charges and convicted felons. The main source of this is a convicted felon, Brandon McFadden," said Greer.
Former federal agent Brandon McFadden admitted to selling drugs, pled guilty and is now cooperating with the prosecution.
An FBI agent testified that McFadden told him Yelton threatened him, saying "you don't want the kind of problems one might have if they were a snitch."
The agent says Nick DeBruin, who was indicted on Tuesday, told a group of fellow officers that Yelton and Henderson told McFadden he'd be "six feet under" if he cooperated with the feds.
The defense attorneys say the case against their clients relies on people who shouldn't be trusted.
"Uncorroborated testimony by a convicted felon by anyone that wants a break, that needs a break, that wants to get out of custody, that wants charges dismissed -- every motive in the world to fabricate," Greer said.
A pretrial conference has been set for August 23 with a jury trial scheduled for September 13.