State Appeals Court judge charged state for trips, query finds
Sunday, February 13th 2005, 2:19 pm
By: News On 6
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An appeals judge under investigation met with his former secretary's son twice in prison on trips made at court expense, The Oklahoman reported in Sunday's edition.
Judge Steve Lile saw the inmate June 24 and Sept. 18 at the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, prison officials said.
The trips are among those being analyzed by investigators for Attorney General Drew Edmondson and state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan.
Lile identified many of the trips as for prison-related conferences that corrections officials said didn't happen.
Lile, 57, has been a judge for six years on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the final say in the state on criminal cases.
The probe is focusing on accusations of misuse of state funds. Lile already has reimbursed the state $1,560.43 for improper purchases and $1,523.64 for travel.
Lile has repeatedly refused comment.
The travel reimbursement covered the two trips involving the inmate and 15 others. Lile described them as in support of the Department of Corrections Regimented Inmate Discipline boot-camp program.
``In order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest concerning my activities on behalf of RID and my duties on the Court, I request that you use the enclosed funds to refund these claims,'' Lile wrote the Office of State Finance on Jan. 6 in making the reimbursement.
Lile made the trips after inmate Loran Michael Wilson started the boot-camp program. Wilson, 19, of Lawton, is the son of Dawn Lukasik, the judge's former secretary.
Lile reported traveling to Fort Supply, Woodward, Lawton, McAlester, Tulsa, Altus, Chickasha, Duncan, and Waurika for RID ``conferences,'' a RID ``project'' or a RID ``review.'' Some trips were on Saturdays.
``We didn't organize any RID conferences in those cities,'' said Jerry Massie, a Department of Corrections spokesman.
An investigator for the state attorney general in January questioned prison officials about the visits to the prison in Fort Supply.
``The chief of security, the deputy warden and I were all involved in that,'' RID unit manager Martin Conway said of the interviews with an attorney general investigator.
Lukasik accompanied Lile, Conway said.
``Obviously, she wanted to see her son,'' Conway said. ``She's the one who made that request.''
The judge did not ask for special treatment for the inmate, Conway said.
Lukasik is from Lawton and had not then started work as Lile's secretary. She was employed at the court from Aug. 20 to Jan. 3.
The judge billed the state $201.25 for a round-trip between Oklahoma City and Fort Supply and a round-trip between Oklahoma City and Lawton on June 24.
Prison officials said for trial judges to tour the RID program is not unusual, but they could not recall an appeals judge taking a tour before.
Lile visited Wilson at the prison Sept. 18 _ a Saturday, officials said. Deputy Warden Terry Martin sent out a memo beforehand calling it a ``special visit.''
Lile signed in for the visit at 10:35 a.m., describing himself as a family friend. Lukasik also visited her son that day, signing in at 3:20 p.m.
The judge later billed the state $114 for a ``RID Project'' trip Sept. 18 to Woodward _ about 15 miles from Fort Supply.
Lile also billed the state for a ``RID'' trip to Fort Supply on Aug. 28. He is not on the inmate visitor's list for that day, but Lukasik is, as well as the inmate's sister, cousin and grandfather.
Wilson was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $50,000 on a drug charge in Stephens County after completing the RID program. His punishment was for attempting to manufacture methamphetamine in 2003.
Wilson was given probation in Comanche and Grady counties for concealing stolen property.
Once the inquiry into Lile is complete, the attorney general could file charges over the alleged misuse of funds, turn findings over to the Council on Judicial Complaints or take no action.