Sooner Tea Party stirs Oklahoma County sheriff's race
Sheriff John Whetsel stands by the selection of an Edmond dentist as reserve deputy despite Sooner Tea Party charges that the sheriff is harboring a potential terrorist.
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Oklahoma County sheriff's race
John Whetsel (incumbent)
• Party: Democratic
• Age: 63
• Residence: Choctaw
• Profession: Oklahoma County sheriff since 1997
• Family: Wife, Mitzi; two daughters and three grandchildren
• Church: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Edmond
• Endorsements: Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Fraternal Order of Police; Oklahoma City Firefighters Fraternal Order of Police; Oklahoma Retired Firefighters Association; Retired Police Officers Association of Oklahoma; Six of seven remaining elected county officers, including District Attorney David Prater; former District Attorneys Wes Lane, Andy Coats and James Harrod; former Governors Brad Henry and Frank Keating.
• Party: Republican
• Age: 58
• Residence: Midwest City
• Profession: U.S. Marshals Service, contract security officer
• Family: Wife, Lynn; five children, 10 grandchildren
• Church: First Southern Baptist Church, Del City
• Endorsements: United States Court Security Officers Union; Choctaw Fraternal Order of Police
“Some men just like to play golf, some dentists like to do other stuff — I love law enforcement,” he said. “I have lost immediate family members who were killed by the same people they say I am one of. This is absurd, and it hurts so much.”
No action on charges
Jarjoura acknowledged he faced a felony grand larceny charge in Cleveland County in 1994. He said the charge was based on false accusations lodged by a fellow dentistry school student whom he turned in for cheating. He said the charge was dismissed and ultimately expunged. Record of the charge is no longer available at the county court clerk's office.
Jarjoura said the Medicaid lawsuit is an unfounded civil whistle-blower complaint filed by two plaintiffs seeking financial gain. The complaint accuses dentists contracted by Bright Smiles of violating SoonerCare and Medicaid provider contracts beginning in July 2008, by recruiting patients with free gasoline coupons.
Jarjoura said he has not accepted Medicaid patients at his clinic since December 2007. His attorney, Thomas Snyder, said the U.S. government's decision not to intervene or file criminal charges in the case is indicative of the case's lack of merit.
“No one from the federal government has accused anyone in the case of doing anything wrong,” Snyder said.
Snyder said none of the people who complained about Jarjoura were actually seen by the doctor.
Gerhart's article also questions the timing of Jarjoura's volunteer work at the department, implying he was brought on by the department despite his criminal record because of his donations to the department.
A transaction report provided by Knight indicates Bright Smile Family Dentistry donated $25,500 to the department in April 2009. Jarjoura was certified by the state's Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training in November of that year.
Records indicate the dentist contributed a total of $3,600 to Whetsel's re-election campaign. He made several contributions, the first coming in April 2009.
Whetsel said Jarjoura submitted his application to become a reserve deputy in November 2008 and started the CLEET Basic Reserve Academy in March 2009.
Whetsel said the first time he met Jarjoura was the following month, when the dentist awarded the department the first of his donations, and that Jarjoura was subjected to the same background investigation as other applicants.
Among qualifications, reserve deputy applicants must have no criminal record and must participate in a personal aptitude interview and a psychological investigation.
“At that point in time when he was vetted for the academy there was absolutely no conviction for any crime,” Whetsel said. “There was apparently an arrest made, but there was no follow-up to the arrest, there was no prosecution, and he went in and had it expunged.”