Former Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure and her husband were ordered Thursday to repay nearly $70,000 plus interest to the state in an adoption fraud case.
“A person who had a high position of authority should be held to a higher standard,” Garfield County District Judge Paul K. Woodward, who heard the case, told the couple.
Bass-LeSure, 44, pleaded guilty March 2 to two felony counts of obtaining public assistance by false representation. Her husband, Karlos Bass-LeSure, 48, pleaded guilty to one felony count of obtaining public assistance by false representation and one felony count of attempting to obtain public assistance.
They were accused of secretly giving twin babies to Ravonda L. Edwards, the sister of the judge's bailiff, after becoming the twins' foster parents. The couple became foster parents for the twins in 2008 and adopted them in 2010.
Edwards, 42, faces six felony counts in the case. She is due back in court June 1.
Defense attorneys argued during Thursday's restitution hearing that the couple did not owe any restitution because their children were entitled to money from adoption subsidies and foster care payments.
“There is no proof, none, that money was diverted from its intended purpose,” attorney David Autry told the judge. “We don't believe the LeSures owe anything.”
Woodward, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the case, reminded the couple they pleaded guilty to defrauding the state and called their attempts to avoid paying back the money “offensive.”
Woodward ordered the couple to repay $69,055 plus 12 percent interest. Half the interest will be paid to the state and half will be paid to a court fund, the judge said.
Tammy Bass-LeSure and her husband each received a three-year deferred sentence and will not have criminal convictions if they satisfy all probation terms.
The children are now 4 and living in foster care. They are eligible to be adopted.
Tammy Bass-LeSure resigned as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Her last official day was March 1. As part of the agreement, she agreed to not hold public office in the state of Oklahoma.
Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court suspended Bass-LeSure's license to practice law on an interim basis.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the restitution order satisfied the remaining objective of the state's plea agreement with the defendants.
“The first, and paramount objective, was to immediately free the precious children — who were treated like property by the defendants — to be adopted by a loving family,” Prater said in a statement. “The second objective was to immediately remove Tammy Bass-LeSure from the bench, stripping her of any authority to abuse and further harm the citizens of Oklahoma.
“The final objective was to require the defendants to repay all funds defrauded from the state of Oklahoma.”
Tammy Bass-LeSure did not speak to reporters after the hearing, but attorney Richard Anderson said Woodward made an example out of his client.