Claremore Daily Progress

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November 15, 2012

Helm, Thacker: Caught and Warned

DA Loring says commissioners broke law with intent, chooses not to file charges

CLAREMORE — First Assistant District Attorney Ben Loring issued a stern warning to Rogers County Commissioner’s Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm regarding the OSBI’s recent investigation into alleged bid splitting of county contracts.

Loring is choosing not to file charges for the four 2009 purchases involving Time Striping, an Arkansas road striping company due to limitations in the state statute.
If charges were filed and Thacker and Helm were convicted they would be forced to  resign from office.
However, Loring specifically states in his finding he “anticipates further reports from the OSBI on other related alleged misdeeds on your part.” 
The investigation into other issues continues as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation moves forward.
On October 15 due to the recusal by District Attorney Janice Steidley, the District 13 office was appointed by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to review various issues regarding alleged violations of applicable law by Helm and Thacker.
Loring issued the following statement to the commissioners on Nov. 8.
“Please be advised that after reviewing the OSBI investigation into this matter, it is my opinion that each of you violated the intent of what is commonly called the “bid splitting” law (19 O. S. § 1501(A)(3)(a)) and there is even some evidence that would indicate that each of you did so with specific and knowing intent.  However, it is also my opinion that the statute that prohibits this type of action is poorly written and it would be difficult to successfully prosecute either of you under the fact situation, as I understand it. Consequently, we are not filing any charges at this time on these four Purchase Orders,” Loring wrote.
The issue deals with purchase orders 003951 dated Nov. 20, 2009, 004318 dated Dec. 7, 2009, 003691 dated Nov. 9, 2009 and 4322 dated Dec. 7, 2009.
Loring is quick to note that the investigation is ongoing and this denial of prosecution “deals with only the issues related to the above listed purchase order.”

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