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Cleveland County DA sued by former assistant over mug shot fracas

A former assistant of Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn claims he was fired two years ago because the prosecutor wanted to distance himself from a controversy regarding the “wholesale” release of mug shots.
by Andrew Knittle Published: June 26, 2014
/articleid/4958895/1/pictures/2825577">Photo - 
Chad Alexander 
Chad Alexander PROVIDED

“Wholesale release of these photos just doesn't serve a law enforcement purpose in most cases,” Batton said at the time.

In the lawsuit, Batton wrote that Mashburn was not happy when a story appeared in The Oklahoman on June 19, 2012, explaining why elected officials in Cleveland County were not releasing mug shots.

“Mashburn was visibly upset with the article and all but threw a fit about how law enforcement officers would perceive him over the issue and wanted to know how to fix the statements made by the paper that sometimes innocent people are arrested,” Batton wrote in the petition filed Monday.

Batton also wrote that Mashburn accused Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester of lying to a reporter working for The Oklahoman and that Lester “threw the office under the bus.”

In June 2012, Lester told The Oklahoman that his office was complying with policy that restricted the release of mug shots, though he declined to offer his opinion on the subject at the time.

“We are going to follow the advice of the county's legal counsel, who is advising us not to release those photos,” Lester said in a statement.

Batton was fired three days after the news story appeared in The Oklahoman. The restrictive mug shot policy was reversed within a week, too.

Mashburn declined to comment specifically on the lawsuit.

“He was last employed and paid by this office in September of 2008,” Mashburn wrote in a text message Wednesday afternoon, when asked about his relationship with Alexander.

When asked by The Oklahoman if he still used Alexander, in any capacity, Mashburn again had little to say.

“Since that relates to the claims in the lawsuit, I have no further comment,” he said.

Recent arrests

In the lawsuit filed on Monday, Alexander is described in less-than-glowing terms by Batton, who claims Alexander leaked information about his termination to the news media “less than five minutes” after the firing.

“When Mashburn took office, he made it clear that Alexander was his campaign manager and that he held a special status,” Batton wrote in the petition.

He also wrote that Alexander was paid to work as a public information officer for Mashburn’s office. Yet, Batton wrote, Alexander was “never in the office or had any work duties or provided any public relations work relating to the district attorney’s office.”

Alexander was arrested May 13 in Oklahoma City on drug complaints. He is accused of being in possesion of cocaine and prescription drugs he wasn’t supposed to have and lying to a police officer.

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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