By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
WAGONER — A Muskogee city councilor pleaded no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.
Two other charges filed Dec. 5 in Wagoner County District Court against Ward III Councilor Derrick Reed were dismissed as part of a plea deal. Those charges alleged that Reed was driving with a suspended license and carrying an open container.
By entering a plea of no contest, Reed admitted no guilt but acknowledged that the state’s evidence is sufficient to prove culpability. Ben Chapman, who represented Reed, said prosecutors relied upon a probable cause affidavit filed by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper as its offer of proof.
In exchange for his plea, Reed received an 18-month deferred sentence and was fined $1,200. By the terms of the deferred sentence, Special District Judge Doug Kirkley withheld a finding of guilt. The charge will be dismissed when Reed completes the probationary period and pays the fine and court costs.
City Attorney Roy Tucker said because there was no finding of guilt, there is insufficient cause under state law and the city charter to remove Reed from office. Tucker also said he had received no requests for Reed’s removal.
“Because this is a deferred sentence, there has been no conviction,” he said. “State law provides there is sufficient cause to remove an official from office if there is a violation of a penal statute involving moral turpitude, but that requires a conviction.”
Tucker said he found only one case in which driving under the influence was deemed to have been a crime of moral turpitude. Although the term lacks precision, crimes of moral turpitude typically involve moral corruption and dishonesty.
Reed and his lawyer declined to discuss the facts of the case or Reed’s decision to enter a plea in the case. The affidavit upon which prosecutors based its case indicates that Reed was stopped early Nov. 17 while driving south on U.S. 69.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Kenny Knight, the arresting officer, states in the affidavit that he encountered Reed after he saw a four-door Chevrolet being driven on the shoulder of the highway at about 40 mph.
Knight alleges that the car swerved “back onto the roadway and then ... back onto the shoulder.” Knight states in the affidavit he “immediately noticed the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage radiating from inside the car” after Reed “cracked his window” when the trooper approached.
The affidavit alleges Reed’s “speech was slow and slurred, and his eyes were bloodshot.” Knight alleges that when Reed got out of the car, the first-term councilor was “unstable on his feet” and then failed a series of roadside sobriety tests.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or email@example.com.