The five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have been given until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether or not they are willing to resign to avoid criminal charges, The Oklahoman has learned.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater notified the parole board in August that he had concluded it blatantly violated the Open Meeting Act. His investigators have been sifting through parole board records for months looking for evidence to support dozens of misdemeanor charges.
The district attorney decided to offer the board members a chance to resign — in carefully structured stages — to prevent the entire parole system from being shut down, sources told The Oklahoman.
Prater also made the offer in case some board members may not have realized they were breaking the law, sources said.
Prater also wants the board's longtime executive director, Terry Jenks, to step down, sources said. Jenks already had been planning to retire.
At least one board member already has decided he won't quit. Others are considering what to do.
“I'm not going anywhere,” board member Currie Ballard said Wednesday. “Until Christ Jesus calls me home, I'll be on the parole board. We haven't committed a crime. Knowingly violated the law, we have not done that.”
He said the board has tried to correct the issues involving the Open Meeting Act. He said, just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was, “if I got to be chastised by the government when I know I'm right — when I know I'm right — so be it.”
Ballard said Prater has been added to the prayer list at Ballard's church, Salters Chapel AME in Langston.
The board's defense attorney, Mack Martin, of Oklahoma City, met with Prater on Jan. 18. Martin then met with board members individually last week at his law office to communicate the offer.
Both Prater and Martin declined Wednesday to comment on the offer.
“The rules of professional conduct do not allow me to discuss proposed plea agreements,” Prater said.