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Oklahoma grand jury is investigating Oklahoma County DA's accusers

Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury is looking at whether critics of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater falsified information about a victory party in an effort to smear him.
by Nolan Clay Published: April 29, 2012

photo - Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater  PAUL HELLSTERN
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater PAUL HELLSTERN

© Copyright 2012, The Oklahoman

A state multicounty grand jury is looking into whether critics of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater falsified information about a 2006 victory party in an effort to smear him, The Oklahoman has learned.

State law enforcement agents last year investigated allegations about whether Prater, a Democrat, violated laws on campaign donations because of the party. The agents from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation questioned campaign donors, party participants and Prater.

The OSBI at the time confirmed agents were reviewing allegations of official misconduct.

The grand jury, though, appears to be focusing now on whether Prater's accusers broke the law, sources told The Oklahoman.

At issue is whether a restaurant owner's typed statement last year about who paid $12,700 for the party is a lie.

The owner, Wade Starr, now insists the April 2011 affidavit is incorrect, sources said.

Grand jurors specifically are looking at what involvement Oklahoma City defense attorney Joe Brett Reynolds and any other attorney had in getting the statement from the owner of the upscale restaurant, sources said.

Prater, 52, and Reynolds, 44, have been at odds. Reynolds is dying of brain cancer, friends said last week. His wife said last week he is bedridden, cannot talk and cannot walk.

One friend, prominent defense attorney Irven Box, said anybody claiming Reynolds did anything wrong on the affidavit is a coward.

“They're trying to pick on someone who is extremely ill,” Box said. “I can't believe, frankly, they would stoop that low.”

The victory party was thrown for Prater on Nov. 20, 2006, at Cafe Nova, about two weeks after Prater defeated the incumbent district attorney, Wes Lane.

Attorneys Scott Adams, Ron Wallace, Josh Welch and David Ogle have said they and other attorneys all chipped in money to help pay for the party.

Prater has said the party was not arranged by his campaign and was not a campaign fundraiser. He has said he did not report what attorneys paid for the party as donations to his 2006 campaign because the money did not benefit the campaign. He has denied wrongdoing.

He confirmed Friday he cooperated fully in the OSBI investigation. He said he talked freely with an OSBI agent and did not have any attorney present. Prater declined last week to discuss what the grand jury is doing.

Accusations about the victory party began surfacing a year ago. An anonymous letter sent to the media claimed one attorney, Lewis B. Moon, actually paid for the entire party. The letter suggested the expense of the party was an illegal, excessive campaign donation.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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