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Grand jury clears Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater

Oklahoma grand jurors on Thursday cleared Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater of any wrongdoing involving a 2006 victory party, and they condemned defense attorney Irven Box for making the allegations.
by Nolan Clay Published: June 15, 2012
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Grand jurors blamed — but did not directly name — Box and a now-dead attorney, Joe Brett Reynolds, for making the accusations. Box was referred to in the report as Attorney A and Reynolds as Attorney B.

Grand jurors reported Box first sent a letter about Prater to Assistant Attorney General Robert Hudson in February 2011. The grand jurors noted Box and Reynolds at the time were representing former pharmacist Jerome Ersland in a murder case. The defense attorneys were seeking to have Prater removed from the case.

Ersland later was convicted at trial of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a wounded robber inside a south Oklahoma City drugstore.

Involvement

Grand jurors reported Box was involved in the preparation of the false statement about the party from the cafe owner. Grand jurors reported Reynolds and the cafe owner, Wade Starr, “were plainly the source of the bogus ‘invoice' that” Box sent to the attorney general's office.

Reynolds died in May of brain cancer.

The grand jury ended the report by criticizing the defense attorneys.

“More care to the cause of Justice is expected from legal professionals than was exercised here before making allegations as serious as these,” the report states. “Such actions should never be undertaken, as the facts suggest in this case, in order to obtain some possible advantage for a client in a pending case. Such actions by members of the criminal defense bar are plainly far below any reasonable expectations of the public in regard to anyone who should be professionally dedicated to defending other persons accused of crimes.

“This is particularly true of Attorney A, who is a former police officer and former prosecutor.”

Box, who is one of the best-known attorneys in Oklahoma City, testified Wednesday before the grand jury.

Told Thursday of the grand jury's criticism, Box said, “I think it's just a whitewash — prosecutors protecting prosecutors.”

Attorney denies role

Box denied having a role in preparing the cafe owner's statement about Moon paying for the party. He has said in the past he believes the statement is true.

The grand jury noted that Prater in May voluntarily filed an amended campaign report reflecting the party as $10,000 in in-kind contribution from five sponsors. The grand jury noted Prater also has repaid some of the sponsors.

“We believe these actions were intended by Mr. Prater (to), and should, remove even the appearance of impropriety from this celebration party. We commend Mr. Prater for voluntarily undertaking these actions,” the grand jury reported.

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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