MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 31, 2013

Parole board members told to quit or face charges


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have been told to resign or face misdemeanor charges of violating the state Open Meeting Act, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

The person told The Associated Press about the proposal Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the deal publicly.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who began an investigation in July into allegations that the board violated the law by considering early release requests for inmates, including convicted killers, without proper public notification, declined comment.

"The rules of professional conduct for prosecutors do not allow me to discuss plea negotiations," Prater said.

Mack Martin, attorney for the board members, also declined to discuss the proffer.

"I don't discuss any client matters with the media, period. I don't think it's appropriate," Martin said.

No charges have been filed, and board members have said they acted legally under their authority to commute sentences

Violating the Open Meeting Act carries a penalty of up to one year in the county jail and up to a $500 fine.

Prater has been investigating allegations that the board violated the law about 50 times since 2009 by considering early release requests for inmates without proper public notification.