Monday, April 4, 2016

Wagoner County Sheriff Indictment Innocent Man Indicted or Corruption?

   A 2014 civil asset forfeiture turned into a grand jury indictment o Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert and one of his captains but the case is far from being clear at this point.

  Colbert and Captain Jeff Gragg were indicted on three felony counts after rejecting a plea deal to resign and plead guilty to a misdemeanor.  The felony counts state that both men conspired to accept a bribe or conspired to commit extortion in exchange for releasing two men after a felony arrest for drug charges. 

  Torell Wallace and a 17 year old passenger were stopped on U.S. 69 on December 13th, 2014.  A search of the car found $10,000 in cash wrapped up to escape detection by dogs and both passengers claimed ownership of the money.  Both were arrested for possession of drug proceeds and taken to the Wagoner County Jail.   They both were released after disclaiming any ownership or interest in the cash and the arrest records were allegedly deleted.  The cash was placed in a drug forfeiture account with the  County Treasurers Office a few days later.

  The indictment states that Wallace stated to Captain Gragg that he was on parole and wanted to stay out of jail and that Gragg offered that disclaiming the cash would make that happen.  Wallace did so and Sheriff Colbert had the booking process stopped and deleted the records from the system.

  Both Sheriff Colbert and Captain Gragg have been arrested and released on bail.  A second charge was that the Oklahoma State Auditor had found that $440.00 was missing from a previous drug money seizure in 2011.  Other allegations were from CLEET, that training attendance records were falsified.

  Colbert is said to have been a good man while serving with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.  That in itself proves nothing but it does give us pause out of respect for the men that vouched for Colbert.   To us, what is beyond proof is that the practice of civil asset forfeiture is a cancer that is eating law enforcement to the bone and there is no doubt that this one case is the tip of the iceberg.

  We don't see how any money was embezzled from the drug dealer, after all it was deposited into a County Treasurer account a few days later.  But the fact is that the money was extorted in exchange for stopping the arrest booking process of what appears to be a known drug dealer.  That is not good government, that is an invitation to corruption of law enforcement.  The process needs to stop and the Senator Loveless Anti Civil Forfeiture legislation needs to be put back on track over the objections of the corrupt Senator Anthony Sykes.