Claremore Daily Progress

Inola

August 26, 2013

Sheriff, 5 others seek grand jury probe of Rogers County officials

Helm, Thacker and DA Steidley among targets

CLAREMORE —

Sheriff Scott Walton and five other residents of Rogers County petitioned the district court Monday for a grand jury investigation of two county commissioners, the district attorney and three of her assistants.

The petition contained a potpourri of issues for inquiry, ranging from bidding procedures by Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm to possible “oppression and corruption in office and willful misadministration” by District Attorney Janice Steidley.

Also named in the requested grand jury investigation were Assistant District Attorneys Bryce Lair, David Iski and Timothy Wantland.

“The petition is a way for the issues to be looked at by a clear set of eyes,” said Walton. “It is what needed to be done.” 

Thacker, chairman of the county commissioner, was the only target of the petition to comment immediately, although all of them were contacted by The Daily Progress. He said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had already investigated the bidding and related issues listed in the petition, “and found there was no criminal or unethical activity.”

Joining Sheriff Walton in submitting the petition were Claremore police Det. John Singer, who is suing the district attorney in federal court on grounds she sought to destroy his professional reputation; Claremore police Lt. Steve Cox; local businessmen Russell Guilfoyle and Myron Grubowski, who are frequent critics of the commissioners; and Billy D. Jones, the father of two juvenile rape victims.

The petition was sent to Chief Justice Tom Colbert of the Oklahoma Supreme Court to determine if it meets state requirements and, if so, clearing the way for the petitioners to begin collecting the 3,000 registered voter signatures needed to convene the grand jury. There are approximately 49,000 registered voters in Rogers County.

Colbert has three days to decide the legality of the petition, and the petitioners then have 45 days to gather the required number of signatures.

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