The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

October 3, 2013

Rogers County residents want grand jury probe

CLAREMORE, Okla. — Citizens petition for Oklahoma grand jury probe

Eds: Adds details of petition drive and allegations, background

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — Sponsors of a citizens’ petition drive for a grand jury investigation of several Rogers County officials, including District Attorney Janice Steidley, have turned in 7,711 signatures to the county clerk.

Grady County Judge Richard Van Dyck, who was assigned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to preside over the petition process, signed an order sealing the signatures after they were presented Wednesday, one week before the deadline to submit the names of 4,487 registered voters to convene the grand jury.

The petition asks a grand jury to determine if Steidley should be removed from office for alleged corruption and misconduct, the Claremore Daily Progress reported ( ). It also seeks an investigation into claims of malfeasance by Assistant District Attorneys David Iski, Bryce Lair and Timothy Wantland, and County Commissioners Mike Helm and Kirt Thacker.

“Once this petition was made available, the 7,000-plus petition signatures sought us out,” said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, an organizer of the drive. “These people want better government in Rogers County.”

Among the other petition drive sponsors are Claremore Police Detective John Singer and Police Lt. Steve Cox.

The petition asks for a probe into, among other things, Steidley’s alleged witness tampering, alleged wiretapping of courthouse employees by Steidley and Lair, and Steidley’s alleged sending threatening text messages to a deputy sheriff.

Steidley has said the allegations against her are “baseless and pathetic” and that the petition drive is politically motivated. The other officials have also rejected the claims against them.

Court Clerk Kim Henry said the names will be turned over to the Rogers County Election Board for verification. The board has seven days to determine if the signatures meet the requirements for convening a grand jury.

If the signatures are validated, Van Dyck will order a grand jury to convene within 30 days to begin the inquiry.

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