The Edmond Sun

December 21, 2012

Rogers: ‘They will be punished’

Legal hearing to wait until March

By JAMES BEATY
CNHI News Service

McALESTER — It looks as if prosecution and defense attorneys will have to wait until at least March to find out whether former District 18 Drug Court Coordinator Angie Marcum will be bound over for trial on six of the counts in the first indictment filed against her.

Oklahoma Attorneys General Charles Rogers and Megan Tilly were in Pittsburg County District Court on Wednesday, as were Marcum and her attorney, Shannon McMurray, of Tulsa.

They were in McAlester for a preliminary hearing on an indictment in which Marcum is charged with six counts of stealing, destroying or secreting a public book or record in the form of receipts for payments made by drug court recipients.

Following testimony by two state witnesses, Okmulgee County Special District Judge Cindy Pickering tentatively continued the hearing until early March, with an exact date to be determined later. Pickering has been appointed to preside over the preliminary hearing in the case.

Marcum is accused in a 2011 Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury indictment with two counts of embezzling public money and property, along with six counts of stealing, destroying or secreting a public book or record in the form of receipts for payments made by drug court participants.

The grand jury indicted Marcum in connection with an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and State Auditor and Inspector’s Office probe into missing money and records in the District 18 Drug Court, which covers Pittsburg and McIntosh counties.

After the hearing, McMurray spoke with the News-Capital and was highly critical of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation case against Marcum.

She noted that in addition to Marcum, present and former drug court participants who were working in the drug court office in McAlester also took payments from drug court participants.

“We’re ready to get it on like Donkey Kong,” she said, referring to her readiness to defend Marcum of the charges filed against her.

Also after the hearing, Rogers had a response to McMurray’s criticism of the state investigation.

“Ms. Marcum and others did their dead level best to frustrate and impede the OSBI and Auditor and Inspector’s investigation,” Rogers said. “They were indicted; they will be tried and they will be punished.”

The only two witnesses who testified Wednesday were OSBI agent John Jones, and Rodney Briggs, of Briggs Printing.

Rogers and Tilly had other state witnesses ready to testify, but the case was continued after the judge said she had to return to Okmulgee County.

Much of the testimony concerned receipt books which were used in drug court and which were designed to keep records of payments made by drug court participants. Payments were fees charged for participating in the program and other related costs, according to previous testimony.

Seventy-six receipt books were delivered to the drug court over a period of time, according to testimony in the case, including one which was a reprint of a previous receipt book, reported “lost.”

Nine of the receipt books are still unaccounted for, according to prosecutors.

Jones testified that some of the records used in the investigation had been obtained during an initial visit to the drug court office. Jones said Marcum was out of the office but he spoke to her over the phone and told her what he needed.

More records were obtained after investigators served a subpoena.

Other testimony concerned records that were allegedly taken from the drug court office by Marcum.

“You believe she was taking them out to steal them? That’s what you believe?” McMurray asked Jones.

“Yes,” he replied.

“It’s just as consistent to believe she was taking them out to comply with the subpoena, isn’t it?” McMurray continued.

“Possibly,” Jones replied.

Rogers, questioning Jones, asked him to read a passage from a policy book which stated that drug court collections were to be deposited daily. The lack of daily deposits had been given as one of the reasons that sparked the investigation into the drug court issues.

Briggs testified regarding the printing of receipt books used by the  District 18 Drug Court. The receipt books were to be used to give receipts to drug court participants each time they made a payment.

Marcum had previously been ordered bound over for trial on all eight counts in the indictment in November 2011, after she, through her attorney at the time, Michael Parks, waived the remainder of  the original preliminary hearing.

However, Marcum subsequently changed attorneys, leading to her current representation by McMurray.

McMurray then sought to have a new preliminary hearing on the charges in the original indictment. She was successful in obtaining a new preliminary hearing on the six counts having to do with stealing, destroying or secreting a public book or record.

The original bind-over order on the two embezzlement counts were allowed to stand. However, a trial date on those two counts is not expected to be set until the preliminary hearing on the six stealing, destroying or secreting a public book or record counts is completed and a decision is rendered by the judge.

The original accusations against Marcum made in the indictment issued by the Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury were unsealed in Pittsburg County District Court in June 2011.

Meanwhile, a case in which Marcum, former District 18 District Attorney Michael Miller and former Pittsburg County Special Judge Bill Layden are charged with conspiracy is awaiting farther action pending a decision by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Rogers and Tilly are appealing a lower court decision prohibiting the attorney general’s office from using as part of the prosecution’s case text messages allegedly sent between Miller and Marcum.

Miller had represented the district attorney’s office in dealing with the drug court, while Layden had been the special judge assigned to oversee the drug court’s day-to-day operations.

JAMES BEATY is the senior editor at the McAlester News-Capital. Contact Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.