Former assistant DA is indicted

Saturday, January 28th 2006, 3:14 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A longtime prosecutor was indicted by a state multicounty grand jury that is looking into allegations of missing drug evidence and perjury involving the Cherokee County District Attorney's Office.

Janet Bickel will surrender Monday morning in Oklahoma County District Court when the first of the indictments is unsealed, her Tahlequah attorney, Donn Baker, said on Friday.

Bickel also was asked by the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office to appear Tuesday morning in Wagoner County District Court, Baker said. Two more indictments from Wagoner County and one out of Cherokee County will be unsealed at that time.

``My speculation is that it's some kind of perjury (count)'' in Oklahoma County, her defense attorney said. ``I have no idea about Wagoner County.''

Bickel resigned earlier this month from District Attorney Richard Gray's office. Gray's district includes Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Adair counties.

Bickel would not comment on the grand jury indictments Friday, but her attorney vowed that she would plead not guilty to all of the counts and eventually be vindicated.

``I'm convinced that when all is said and done she will be found innocent,'' Baker said.

Bickel and Gray were among numerous District Attorney's Office employees called to testify in front of the state multicounty grand jury since September, according to reports.

Other grand jury witnesses included District Attorney's Drug Task Force Director Vyrl Keeter, Assistant District Attorney Donovan Dobbs and several Tahlequah police officers.

The state multicounty grand jury, which meets regularly in Oklahoma City, keeps its investigations secret until the indictments are unsealed. Cherokee County officials, however, previously have hinted that the probe might be looking into missing drug evidence.

One of those called to testify was former Drug Task Force investigator Clint Johnson.

Gray fired Johnson about three weeks ago, shortly after his grand jury testimony.

Johnson would not comment on the specifics of his testimony, but said Friday that he was never given a reason for his firing. He has since found another job working for the Adair County Sheriff's Office.

Johnson said he was prepared to testify for the state at trial and believed the public will be disappointed at Gray and many of his aides once the case is out in the open.

Gray could not be reached for comment.

Baker said he believed that allegations of missing drug evidence may have been one of the issues looked at by the state multicounty grand jury.

``There's been allegations into all kinds of things,'' he said. ``I think they looked into the drug task force.''

The state multicounty grand jury announced Thursday it had returned a total of six indictments involving seven people, authorities said. The final indictments will be unsealed Friday in Oklahoma County.