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Oklahoma County District Attorney makes new allegation about Oklahoma parole board

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said board members changed votes in violation of the Open Meeting Act. The new allegation is in a confidential email obtained by The Oklahoman.
by Nolan Clay Published: February 4, 2013

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is making a new allegation about the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board — that members have illegally changed their votes.

“Additionally, any time they changed a previously cast vote, outside of public scrutiny, I view that as a violation as well,” Prater wrote the board's defense attorney last week.

“We found several instances of that,” Prater wrote.

Prater last year launched a criminal investigation of the parole board after concluding it blatantly violated the state Open Meeting Act. His initial allegation was that the board illegally took up early release requests without proper public notice.

Board members have denied violating the law.

The board's chairman, Tulsa minister Marc Dreyer, acknowledged Monday that a board member sometimes changes his or her vote an hour or a day after the initial vote. He said any changes, though, will be before the meeting ends.

He said a monthly meeting lasts three to four days, and an announcement is made each day that votes are not final until the board adjourns.

“Every one of those votes occurs in the public meeting,” Dreyer said of any changes. “Now, is there anybody present in the room? Gosh ... probably for at least half of the board meeting there isn't anybody there except for the security people. But it's still an open, public meeting.”

Email mentions new claim

The initial allegation against the board was detailed in a letter Prater sent to the board's executive director last August.

The new allegation is mentioned in a confidential email Prater sent the evening of Jan. 29 to defense attorney Mack Martin. The Oklahoman obtained two of Prater's Jan. 29 emails from a source.

Prater in January offered not to file criminal charges against the board members if they would resign. The proposal called for board members to resign in stages so the parole process would not be disrupted.

He gave board members a deadline of 5 p.m. last Friday to decide. All five board members rejected the offer.

Prater is expected to file dozens of criminal counts later this month against the five members — Dreyer; Currie Ballard, of Langston; Lynnell Harkins, of Moore; David Moore, of Edmond; and Richard L. Dugger, of Oklahoma City.

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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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