An Oklahoma County judge accused of fraud has decided to take an extended leave of absence from the courthouse.
District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, was charged last week with 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
Her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, was charged with two counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
Bass-LeSure took off this week at the request of Oklahoma County's presiding judge. She now has decided to stay away longer while she fights the felony charge against her, multiple sources told The Oklahoman.
The case could take as much as a year or two to come to trial, if it goes that far. The judge for now will continue to be paid. Her salary is more than $120,000 a year.
Her attorney, Richard Anderson, said Thursday the judge's decision was made out of respect for and to show dignity to her judicial office.
Bass-LeSure has spent most of her 12 years as an elected judge hearing criminal cases. She began in January to hear probate, guardianship and adoption cases.
She was the original trial judge for pharmacist Jerome Ersland who is charged with murder. She took herself off that case Aug. 31 after prosecutors complained. Prosecutors accused her then of misconduct involving a gym trainer with a pending drug case.
In the fraud case, prosecutors allege the judge and her husband secretly gave away twins placed in their care.
Prosecutors also allege the judge spent some of the state funds paid to her for the children's care on herself including purchases at spas, nail salons and casinos.
An investigation found the judge and her husband signed up in January 2008 to be foster parents of the boy and girl and then adopted them in May. Prosecutors allege she actually was letting her bailiff's sister, Ravonda Edwards, raise the children.
The children, named Jakobi Booker and Jazlyn Booker, are now 3. Booker was once Edwards' last name, records show.
The twins were taken to Oklahoma County's juvenile shelter last Friday night and remain in the care of the Department of Human Services.
The judge could have continued to serve, if she had chosen to. Neither the state Supreme Court nor Oklahoma County's presiding judge could have suspended her.
A district judge can only be suspended or removed from office by the state Court on the Judiciary, officials said.
Special judge dies
Also Thursday, a longtime Oklahoma County special judge, Charles G. Humble, died after an illness. Humble, 74, was to have retired in a few days. Oklahoma County Presiding Judge Dan Owens called him a good judge who worked hard. “He was a great friend. He will be missed,” Owens said.