Hughes County commissioner being investigated

Friday, July 2nd 2004, 5:48 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A Pittsburg County prosecutor will oversee an investigation into whether a Hughes County commissioner violated state law.

A special state audit released Wednesday alleges that Commissioner Bobby Ray plotted to circumvent county rules about temporary workers.

Retired county equipment operator Loyal Dyer, identified in the report as Employee No. 1, asked in 1998 to return as a temporary employee. County rules allow temporary employees to work six months, then they must be hired full time.

Dyer's county retirement plan doesn't allow him to work full time. After the six months were up, Ray put Dyer's wife, Flora, on the payroll and issued checks to her, although Loyal Dyer stayed on the job, the audit alleges.

District Attorney Chris Wilson said Thursday he is reviewing the report and hasn't decided whether he'll file charges.

In an affidavit released with the audit, which examined the period between 1998 and 2000, Ray said, "I can now see this was a bad decision on my part and regret doing it."

According to the audit, Ray may have violated his loyalty oath by signing false payroll sheets and he may have violated a state law on retirement contributions.

The Dyers earned $11,640 in 1998 and $15,400 in 1999 from Hughes County, but no retirement contributions were withheld from their pay.

Ray also may have overpaid the Dyers for 23 hours over the two years and granted six paid sick days, which are only for full-time county employees, the audit alleged.

In the affidavit, Ray said that "at no time was anyone paid by the county without work being received. (Employee No. 1) was a good employee and a good equipment operator."

Loyal Dyer declined comment to The Oklahoman.

Ray's attorney, Harold Heath, said his client brought the issue to the attention of the Hughes County district attorney, who then requested the audit.