Claremore Daily Progress

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November 6, 2013

DA adds 25 claims against grand jury petitioners

CLAREMORE — The district attorney’s civil litigation against the citizens seeking the investigation of several Rogers County officials has not slowed in light of a pending multicounty grand jury.

DA Janice Steidley and her assistants added 25 claims Monday to the civil lawsuit accusing the six grand jury petitioners and 25 unnamed “John Does ” of attempting to destroy their reputation, endangering their freedom, publicly smearing them and subjecting them to unfounded criminal charges.

The three pages of new complaints were filed by DA Steidley and her two assistants, David Iski and Bryce Lair.

The civil lawsuit seeks more than $500,000 in damages.

The lawsuit was originally filed Oct. 16th, one day after the grand jury petition was dismissed by Tulsa County Judge Jefferson Sellers on a technicality.

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, Claremore Police Officers John Singer and Steve Cox, business owners Myron Grubowski and Russell Guilfoyle and Bill Jones, the father of two rape victims, were named as defendants.

The DAs have yet to name the 25 “John Does,” yet their latest filing lists new accusations against Singer’s wife, local attorney Edith Singer, and former judge and candidate for district attorney Erin Oquin.

The document states “in the pursuit of a grand jury the defendants colluded and conspired among themselves with the John Does Nos. 1-25 for the ulterior motive of harassment and retaliation in an effort to destroy plantiffs’ reputations and employment.”

Joel Wohlgemuth, the DA’s attorney, claims the petitioners abused the grand jury process attempting to oust DA Steidley from office.

He further claims law enforcement officers Walton, Singer and Cox misused their positions and public resources “in their planning and implementation of their ill-fated scheme to empanel a grand jury in an effort to intimidate and harm,” the DAs.

Wohlgemuth accuses Singer and his wife of conspiring with Oquin to record her phone conversation with Assistant DA Kathy Lahmeyer.

Oklahoma law allows for individuals to record their own conversations without the other person’s knowledge or consent.

Oquin said, “I strongly disagree with the allegations as presented. I choose not to run my campaign through lawsuits.”

Attorney General Scott Pruitt has called for the issues listed in the grand jury petition along with other concerns to be investigated by the multicounty grand jury, which reconvenes Dec.10.

Since the lawsuit was filed in October, the petitioners have retained six attorneys to serve as legal counsel.

Attorneys Walter Haskins and Mark Warman will represent Walton. He has been named personally and as the sheriff of Rogers County.

Singer and Cox will be represented by Tulsa Attorney Chad Neuens.

Neuens serves as counsel to Singer in a pending federal civil rights lawsuit naming DA Steidley and Lair as defendants.

The lawsuit is listed in Wohlgemuth’s complaint as Singers motivation for his involvement in the grand jury petition.

Grubowski has retained Schaad Titus, a Tulsa attorney, who previously represented the Tulsa World.

Guilfoyle has retained Thomas Paruolo and Max Myers will be representing Jones.

The DAs are being represented by Wohlgemuth, Valery Giebel and David Ross of the Tulsa law firm Norman, Wohlgemuth, Chandler & Dowdell.

Each petitioner was required to file a response to the DA’s petition, however several of the attorneys are requesting more time to complete it.

Rogers County District Judge Dynda Post filed a request on Oct. 17 for judicial reassignment in the case.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court assigned the case to Tulsa County Judge Carlos Chappelle last week.

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