The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 28, 2014

Panel declares statutes of limitations have expired for prosecution of violations


Norman Transcript / CNHI News Service

NORMAN, Okla. — A multi-county grand jury Thursday found probable cause to charge Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan with misdemeanor charges in relation to the sale of a parcel of land on his Etowah Road property. However, the grand jury did not return any indictments in the session.

“I cooperated fully in the investigation and answered every question asked of me in the grand jury process,” Sullivan said late Thursday afternoon. “I am glad that this matter is resolved and that we can move on to the issues of importance to the citizens of Cleveland County.”

The report states that (Sullivan) “had a direct interest as a duly elected and qualified county commissioner in a transaction for the sale of his property to Cleveland County for a road improvement project he initiated, supported and was actively involved in as a Cleveland County commissioner.

“However, the violations were reported to the Office of the Attorney General of Oklahoma more than three years after the events occurred and, therefore, the statutes of limitations have expired for prosecution of these misdemeanor violations.”

The investigation focused on whether Sullivan, current chairman of the Cleveland County board, received special treatment when the state paid him nearly $20,000 for trees in the right of way along Etowah Road where he lives. Sullivan is District 3 commissioner.

Documents filed with the state transportation department show that Sullivan was paid to replace 21 trees along his property close to the road.

The grand jury report also noted that although it did not excuse the actions of the county commission “with regard to his willingness to accept payment of money set aside for the residents of Cleveland County,” the evidence in the case was not sufficient to show probable cause that a crime of embezzlement of state property was committed.

The payment included:

· $5,600 to replace five loblolly pine trees;

· $6,400 to replace eight redbud trees;

· $4,480 to replace seven crepe myrtles;

· $960 to replace a maple tree.

Sullivan also received $900 to “acquire (an) asphalt drive.”

The commissioner donated the right of way land next to Etowah Road for a total of $1,150.