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DA's staff cleared of eavesdropping

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:34 am

State prosecutors have cleared the local district attorney’s office of allegations of spying and eavesdropping.

The decision by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office comes nearly seven months after the accusations were made against the Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office.

A statement by the attorney general’s office said “no tangible instance of wrongdoing has ever been alleged.”

The statement was sent to Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore by an assistant attorney general, Kristopher Dale Jarvis.

“In fact, not one of the thirteen individuals interviewed by the (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) was aware of any instance of your office using its access to the courthouse security system to observe or record impermissible events, including attorney-client conversations,” Jarvis said in the statement. “The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office will neither be pursuing this case as a criminal investigation, nor will it be presenting it to the Multicounty Grand Jury.”

Area attorneys met with four Muskogee County judges in September after learning that the DA’s office had access to two laptops that were patched into security cameras at the courthouse. The attorneys feared that the access could have allowed prosecutors to listen to conversations that the attorneys assumed were confidential.

Moore said his office did nothing wrong. He asked the OSBI to investigate his office after the agency had declined a similar request by the Muskogee County Bar Association.

Moore said Wednesday that the allegations were a “witch hunt,” the result of political motivations by people he had angered as the district attorney.

“When you’re a district attorney, you step on a lot of toes by doing your job right,” he said. “And I haven’t been afraid to step on toes.

“This was a big to-do about nothing, and they cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars.”

Moore requested the OSBI investigation in October, after two jury trials were postponed because of the allegations. Four trials were postponed while the investigation took place.

One of those cases was dismissed last month. The other three are set for June’s disposition docket, and they should proceed following the Attorney General Office’s ruling.

Martha Cherbini, who was the Muskogee Bar Association president when the allegations were made, was on vacation Wednesday and could not be reached. The new president, Justin Stout, said he had not seen the news release.

Cherbini also had asked that the Oklahoma Bar Association look into the matter. Carol Manning, OBA spokeswoman, said she couldn’t comment on whether the OBA was looking into the accusations.

“I can say that there is nothing in public record that we can share with you,” she said.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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