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January 5, 2014

Scope of grand jury probe revealed

State investigators interviewed 82 witnesses

CLAREMORE —

State investigators have submitted interviews with 82 witnesses and voluminous financial, phone, email and court records to the multicounty grand jury considering accusations of wrongdoing against local prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
The scope of the evidence was disclosed in an affidavit filed by Robert Harshaw, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Invesigation (OSBI), in a motion objecting to release of his agency’s investigation to Claremore Police Det. John Singer for use in his federal civil rights lawsuit against District Attorney Janice Steidley and her top assistant. 
Singer had subpoenaed the OSBI director for the evidence in an effort to show that Steidley and First Assistant DA Bryce Lair had damaged his reputation by accusing Singer of committing perjury in a child sex-abuse case.  
But, Singer later withdrew the subpoena after Harshaw told the court that the judge presiding over the multicounty grand jury had strictly prohibited him from sharing details of the OSBI investigation with anyone outside of the grand jury.
Harshaw’s affidavit also said release of the evidence to Singer would needlessly identify citizens in the community who provided “compromising information” against the targets of the grand jury inquiry, and also chill cooperation by citizens in future grand jury investigations.
Harshaw said the public would be best served by allowing the grand jury “to complete its inquiry and announce its findings” before the OSBI investigation is released piecemeal to the public by the parties involved in the probe.
“Both Mr. Singer and Ms. Steidley are potential subjects of grand jury action which may originate out of this (OSBI) investigation,” said Harshaw in his affidavit.
The multicounty grand jury is scheduled to resume consideration of the accusations against Singer, Steidley and other Rogers County officials on Jan. 21-23 in Oklahoma City. The state jurors were assigned the case three months ago, after a judge rejected a citizens petition calling for a local grand jury investigation of the district attorney’s office and two county commissioners.
The OSBI has been investigating the various charges and counter-charges in the dispute between the prosecutor’s office, the county commissioners and law enforcement officials since September; but it did not start presenting information to the multicounty grand jury until the following month.
The grand jury proceedings are secret. Testimony and information presented to the jurors is considered confidential and unauthorized release is prohibited by law.

Read the affidavit.

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