OSBI joins missing funds probe

Tuesday, September 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKMULGEE, Okla. (AP) -- Jailers at the Okmulgee County Jail have denied taking almost $500 from a prisoner's belongings, authorities said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has joined a larceny investigation by the Sheriff's Office, OSBI spokeswoman Kym Koch said. Sheriff Ernest Arocha sought the OSBI's help on Wednesday after a wallet, cash and other items were discovered missing from the prisoner's belongings, Koch said.

"Supposedly, it was a box that only the employees -- jailers -- had access to," District Attorney Tom Giulioli said.

Cleve Thierry was released from the Okmulgee County Jail in May after serving a six-month sentence, his attorney, Robert Seacat, said. Thierry had $484.50 on him when jailed, Seacat said.

Arrested by Okmulgee police, Thierry "unquestionably had about $500 on him," Giulioli said, adding that Okmulgee police verified the amount. Thierry's belongings were logged when he was booked into the jail, Giulioli said.

"The money wasn't subject to seizure," he said. "They were going to release it back to (Thierry's wife), and that's when it was discovered missing."

The Board of County Commissioners, which oversees the jail, hasn't responded to a tort claim filed June 12 by the government on behalf of Thierry, Seacat said. He said he plans to file a civil suit against the county unless it reimburses Thierry.

Jailers "disavowed any knowledge of the money or disavowed having taken it," Giulioli said. "The next step is to offer all the employees who could have had access to it polygraphs."