The former judge who made a fateful decision in the Kelsey Smith-Briggs case has been charged with embezzling from clients and stealing cattle.
The state's multicounty grand jury on Thursday issued three indictments against Craig S. Key.
Key, 47, is an attorney in Chandler. The grand jury's investigation into his dealings with clients is ongoing. Investigators in March searched his law office.
Grand jurors alleged in one indictment that Key and two other men stole 13 head of cattle and a trailer in September from a Cushing man. Grand jurors alleged in the other indictments that he embezzled $57,238 from one injured client in 2010 and $14,345 from another injured client in 2011.
He was supposed to use the embezzled funds to pay his clients' medical bills but used the money for other purposes, grand jurors alleged.
His attorney, Cheryl Ramsey, of Stillwater, said, “We're very disappointed Mr. Key was indicted by the grand jury. The grand jury only heard one side. We will fight this in court.”
Death led to reforms
Kelsey was the 2-year-old abused girl who died in 2005. Her homicide was one of the first to focus widespread public attention on problems in Oklahoma's child welfare system.
Later child deaths and a federal class-action lawsuit eventually led to major reforms at the state Department of Human Services.
Key is a former Lincoln County associate district judge. He lost re-election in 2006 because of the criticism of his handling of Kelsey's case.
Kelsey died on Oct. 11, 2005, at her Meeker home. She had suffered repeated injuries in the year before her death.
Key was criticized because he had returned Kelsey to her mother four months before her death. He did so even though the mother was suspected of abusing her and DHS advised against it.
Kelsey died from a “blunt force trauma” injury to the abdomen. No one was ever convicted of her death.
Her mother, Raye Dawn Smith, 33, was convicted of enabling child abuse and is serving a 27-year prison sentence.
Kelsey's stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and is serving a 30-year sentence.
Key has had recent severe financial troubles. He owes the federal government, for instance, around $150,000 on an unpaid student loan, records show.
Key faces seven felony counts in all — three counts of delivery of a forged check, two counts of embezzlement, one count of conspiracy to commit larceny of domestic animals and one count of larceny of domestic animals.
Charged with Key in the cattle theft indictment are Joshua E. Anderson, 36, of Agra, and Leslie L. Bottger, 47, of Agra.
Grand jurors allege Key gave them $200 cash on Sept. 28 to cover the expenses of the theft. Grand jurors allege the two men stole a trailer from the victim to move the stolen cattle to Key's farm in two trips on Sept. 29.
Grand jurors allege Key instructed another man, Brandon Ray Dawson, 42, of Chandler, to sell the stolen cattle at a sales barn in Waurika in October. Grand jurors allege Key promised Dawson $200 from the proceeds of the sale.
Dawson was charged last year after state Agriculture Department agents prevented the sale.
Grand jurors allege Dawson, on Oct. 9, sent a text message from the sales barn to Key's cellphone as agents approached him.
According to the indictment, the message was: “Cops Just Came In.” Key responded, “Leave.”
All three indictments will be filed in Lincoln County District Court. Prosecuting the case will be assistants of Attorney General Scott Pruitt.