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Panhandle dispute places Cimarron County treasurer and school board members at risk

The Cimarron County district attorney and two prominent school law firms have locked horns in a Panhandle dispute over attorneys' fees. Caught in the legal crossfire are the county treasurer and two school boards.
by Randy Ellis Modified: May 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm •  Published: May 14, 2013

BOISE CITY — The Cimarron County treasurer is catching criticism from Boise City school attorneys for transferring $27,302 from a school account to a county account without approval from the Boise City School Board.

Treasurer Jenny Richardson was directed to make the transfer by District Attorney James M. Boring.

“To me, it's not right,” said Ira Harris, superintendent of Boise City schools.

School board members feel like they are being “bullied,” he said.

Attorneys for the school district contend the treasurer violated the law.

“Ms. Richardson's actions constitute a conversion of property for which Ms. Richardson may be held both civilly and criminally liable,” an attorney for the Tulsa law firm Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold stated in a May 9 letter.

The district attorney who directed the transfer has contended the $27,302 was owed by the school district as its share of money paid to an outside law firm for representing the interests of the county and two school districts in a tax protest.

Boring previously had asked the school district to pay the money, but the school board refused after two law firms advised board members it would be illegal for them to pay.

Board members were cautioned they could personally be held financially responsible if they authorized payment, Harris said.

The current dispute arose out of a complicated property tax protest filed by JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC.

The county retained the legal services of Tisdal & O'Hara Law Firm of Clinton to fight the tax protest because of the complexity of the case.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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