Claremore Daily Progress

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October 4, 2013

DA files motion to stop grand jury petition certification

CLAREMORE —

A motion to stay the certification of the petition in the pending Rogers County Grand Jury was filed Friday by attorney Joel Wohlgemuth on behalf of District Attorney Janice Steidley and her two assistants.

Steidley, Bryce Lair and David Iski are asking the court to rule on a pending motion to unseal the petition signatures and to reassign the case to a different judge.

They want the certification procedure halted until the court issues a ruling claiming their ability to challenge the validity of signatures is being lost.

Wohlgemuth, a criminal defense attorney based in Tulsa, is also representing the DAs in two civil actions.

Grady County District Judge Richard Van Dyck, has been asked to step down in the case due to a claim he had no governmental authority to seal the signatures and accuses the judge of collaborating with Claremore Police Detective John Singer.

The petition requests a grand jury investigation into Steidley, Lair, Iski and two Rogers County Commissioners, Mike Helm and Kirt Thacker.

Petitioners filed the 7,711 signatures Wednesday and the Rogers County Election Board began verification Thursday.

Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody said her staff is working hard to complete the task.

As of Friday, 3,271 signatures have been checked and verified as valid, according to Dermody.

At least 400 pages of 648 total pages remain to be checked, Dermody said.

The election board has seven working days to verify and certify the signatures.

Once complete, if the minimum 4,487 signatures are certified as registered voters, the judge will rule a grand jury be convened in 30 days.

The grand jury petition makes numerous allegations against Rogers County officials and DA Steidley, Lair and Iski, including charges of witness tampering, wiretapping, threats, false reporting of criminal activity and fraud.

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