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'Medical OR' inmate is accused of robbing three Oklahoma banks in five days

A man who was released from the Oklahoma County jail in December, just before he was admitted to OU Medical Center with a serious brain injury, was arrested in connection with three metro-area bank robberies.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: May 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm •  Published: May 28, 2013
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“This practice ... is a blatant effort by the county and the sheriff to absolve themselves of their statutory and constitutional duty to provide medical care to inmates.”

The hospital's attorneys claim the sheriff has been issuing “Medical OR” releases for some time and likely will continue to do so unless a judge forces them to stop.

The case is pending in district court.

Suspect's bill largest

Using records filed along with the lawsuit, it was learned that Webb's medical bill totaled more than $500,000 — the most of any other inmate.

Court records state Webb was treated for “intracerebral hemorrhage” and that he stayed at the hospital about a month.

Mark Myers, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, confirmed that Webb was released Dec. 10 but denied that Whetsel was dumping the inmate to avoid pay the six-digit medical bill.

Myers said Webb was booked into the county jail Nov. 8 with a “pre-existing medical condition ... that did not present a need for medical attention until later while in our custody.”

Myers said Webb was taken first to St. Anthony Hospital and apparently was later moved to OU Medical Center.

“The jail was not involved in any decision to relocate Webb to any other medical facility,” he said. “The release was issued by an Oklahoma County district judge so that he could be treated for his medical issues at a hospital.

Myers also pointed out the sheriff “does not have the authority to order or issue any OR bond releases.”

“All releases from jail, including OR bond releases, must be ordered by a judge,” he said.

Myers would not say what Webb's medical condition is, citing federal privacy laws.

The lawsuit filed in April by OU Medical Center is not the first time the hospital has sued the sheriff.

The hospital took Whetsel to court two other times after Whetsel refused to pay medical bills of inmates in the county's custody.

The previous suits, filed in 2005 and 2010, were settled after Oklahoma County officials agreed to pay more than $8 million to OU Medical Center.

Neither Myers nor Whetsel could be reached to comment on Webb's latest arrest.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
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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