Â© Copyright 2010, The Oklahoman
Lawmakers passed several bills diverting $900,000 from a special narcotics bureau fund in the closing days of the legislative session, including $90,000 now at the center of a political corruption investigation.
Rep. Randy Terrill, a target in the corruption probe, helped orchestrate plans to move wire transfer fee money to other public safety agencies, legislative records and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control e-mails show.
Terrill and others are under investigation in an alleged plot to give a Democratic lawmaker — state Sen. Debbe Leftwich — a new job at the medical examiner's office so a Republican could run for her seat.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is conducting the investigation. He has said he was told the $80,000- per-year job would have been paid for with money from a special fund for the narcotics bureau.
"The only thing that was ever said to me about what the money was being used for was, it was always ABLE's cars — ABLE commission cars — and that came from Randy (Terrill),” narcotics bureau Director Darrell Weaver said. ABLE is the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.
Weaver added: "They (legislators) told us there was going to be some money taken out. They said they had to shore up some holes with some agencies.”
He also said discussions typically centered on the amount of money needed, not its purpose.
Weaver on Friday, however, told The Oklahoman
he thought the money intended for the medical examiner's office was going to be used to hire pathologists to do autopsies. He said Friday and Monday he didn't know the money was to be used for the office's new transition coordinator job.
State fees on cash wire transfers at places such as Western Union are put into the Drug Money Laundering and Wire Transmitter Revolving fund at Weaver's agency. The fees have raised about $5.7 million since they began last year, according to figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Weaver said the money has been used to pay for operations at the narcotics bureau, which typically only receives about 60 percent of funding it needs from the Legislature.
The fee was created because the narcotics bureau found drug dealers were increasingly using wire transfers for drug deals, Weaver said.
Terrill, chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee for public safety, helped create the wire transfer fee last year. The fees are assessed at more than 2,200 wire transmitters licensed by the state. Wire transfers at banks are not subject to the fees.
Fees are $5 for the first $500 transferred and 1 percent of any amount above that.