Oklahoma County district judge pleads not guilty in fraud case

BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: January 25, 2011 at 10:53 am •  Published: January 25, 2011

An Oklahoma County judge who has sentenced hundreds of criminals saw the justice system from the other side Monday.

District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, and husband Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, surrendered at the Oklahoma County jail in a felony fraud case so they would not be arrested. There, they were fingerprinted and photographed.

The judge smiled broadly for her mug shot.

They then went to the courthouse for a quick arraignment. Special Judge Russell Hall entered not guilty pleas on their behalf. They remain free on personal recognizance bonds. A conference in the case was set for March 31.

Prosecutors allege the judge and her husband secretly gave away twins placed in their care. They allege the judge spent on herself some of the $22,000 in state funds paid to her for the children's care.

An investigation found that the judge and her husband signed up in January 2008 to be foster parents of the boy and girl then adopted them last May. Prosecutors allege the judge actually was letting her bailiff's sister raise the children.

Prosecutors allege the judge used adoption subsidies last year to make purchases at spas, nail salons and casinos. Investigators have records of the purchases because the judge has a DHS debit card.

The judge was charged Friday with 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury. Her husband was charged with two counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.

The judge's attorney, Richard Anderson, told reporters outside the jail that she is “a strong, courageous, compassionate” woman and judge. He said she maintains that she is “100 percent innocent.”

Karlos LeSure's attorney, Michael S. Johnson, said in a statement Monday that he, too, is innocent. Johnson also said, “This matter must be tried in the courtroom and not in the media.”

Bass-LeSure was elected a district judge 12 years ago and has spent much of her career handling criminal cases. At the start of this month, she began handling probate, guardianship and adoption cases. She is staying away from the courthouse the rest of this week at the request of Oklahoma County's presiding judge, The Oklahoman was told.

NewsOK Search: Tammy Bass-LeSure

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