A federal grand jury has become involved in the gambling inquiry of Teddy Mitchell, the Oklahoma City man whose wife was beaten to death in November, The Oklahoman has learned.
Mitchell denies involvement in illegal gambling, his attorney, Scott Adams, said Tuesday.
“He's going through a very tragic time, dealing with the loss of his wife. He's trying to cope with that,” the attorney said.
Julie Mitchell, 34, died Nov. 2 from multiple blunt force trauma to her head, an autopsy report shows. The homicide case remains unsolved.
In April, an FBI agent and an Internal Revenue Service investigator attempted to question at least two of Teddy Mitchell's friends about gambling, attorneys said.
Adams and other attorneys said potential witnesses who know Teddy Mitchell have been subpoenaed to testify this week before the grand jury.
“I'm aware of some people who were subpoenaed,” Adams said. “They called me. They wanted to know if I would represent them. I told them I couldn't because I represented Teddy.”
Adams said his client has not been subpoenaed and has not received a target letter from federal prosecutors.
“He doesn't feel like he's done anything illegal or wrong and, hopefully, we'll get through this.”
Issue raised earlier
Police have said Teddy Mitchell, 56, ran a bookmaking operation where gamblers placed bets on sporting events. “It's common knowledge now that he was involved in bookmaking and things like that,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty told KWTV-9 in November.
An ex-wife raised the gambling issue during a child custody dispute. She said in September 1999 a son should stay in her custody because of Teddy Mitchell's “lifestyle and livelihood.”
Then, in court papers in December 1999, she asked him to list “how many bets on sporting events that you or your business take in” during a year. He refused to answer, invoking the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Adams said Tuesday Teddy Mitchell is not a bookie. The attorney described Teddy Mitchell instead as a professional gambler who reports all of his legal income from gambling on his federal tax returns.
The federal grand jury met Tuesday in Oklahoma City, said Bob Troester, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. He said he could not comment on who or what the grand jury is investigating.
Oklahoma City police, meanwhile, continue to investigate Julie Mitchell's death. A state multicounty grand jury has been helping in the homicide investigation. The state grand jury meets again next week.
Her body was found in the master bedroom closet of her husband's $359,000 house in northwest Oklahoma City. The couple's 1-year-old daughter, London, was in a pool of blood next to the body. The girl was not harmed.
About $30,000 was missing from a closet safe, said Bobby Jackson, the attorney who represented Teddy Mitchell at the grand jury.
Teddy Mitchell was traveling to California when he learned of his wife's death, friends have said.
On Friday, Teddy Mitchell sued one friend, Edmond insurance agent Michael Thomas.
In the lawsuit, Teddy Mitchell said he loaned Thomas $20,000 last year but no payments have been made on the debt.
Thomas' attorney, Josh Welch, said Tuesday, “He maintains that he does not owe Teddy Mitchell any money. … Teddy Mitchell has been made whole and has been paid back more money than he's ever loaned Mike Thomas.”
Thomas last month was called before the multicounty grand jury but he refused to testify. Welch said then that Thomas “exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to answer any questions that would incriminate him” primarily because of “a federal investigation of allegations of gambling ... involving Mr. Mitchell.”
“There's no inference that you can draw as to a person's guilt based on their invocation of the Fifth Amendment,” Welch said.