Oklahoma Judge, Husband Continue To Get DHS Payments Despite Charges
Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma judge and her husband have turned themselves in to authorities after facing more than 30 felony counts of perjury and fraudulent claims.
Oklahoma District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure and her husband Karlos Antonio LeSure Sr. face four counts of perjury and 32 counts of fraudulent claims for allegedly accepting false claims of foster care reimbursements from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney filed charges against the two Friday.
Karlos LeSure and his attorney were the first to arrive at the Oklahoma County jail just before 10 a.m. Monday. Minutes later, Tammy Bass-LeSure arrived with her attorney to also turn herself in.
According to the charges filed "Tammy Bass-LeSure knowingly, willfully and feloniously made fraudulent claims for public funds in the form of foster care reimbursement payments against the state of Oklahoma."
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the LeSures applied in January 2008 to become foster-care providers for the children and to receive payments from the state. The couple adopted the siblings after the children's biological parents terminated their parental rights, the affidavit said.
The District Attorney said the LeSures accepted more than $19,000 to take care of two twin foster children that were supposed to live with Judge Bass-LeSure and her husband, but who court records state actually lived with her bailiff's sister, Ravonda Edwards.
"We are cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation. We will have to wait and see what actually comes out of this investigation to see whether the charges against Judge LeSure are founded or not, and we'll have to see what information comes from that if there needs to be any changes made to our processes," said Sheree Powell, DHS spokesperson.
The twins are now in state custody, but payments will continue to be sent to the LeSures because the LeSures are still legally and financially responsible for the them. By law DHS cannot suspend payments, even though the judge and her husband are being investigated for fraud and perjury.
Judge Bass-LeSure's attorney said the judge maintains her innocence.
"Strong, courageous, compassionate woman; strong, courageous compassionate judge," said LeSure's attorney "This matter is going to be decided in a courtroom and she maintains 100 percent she's innocent of the charges."
The couple was arraigned and both pleaded not guilty on all counts. They were both released on their own recognizance.
A preliminary hearing conference has been set for March 31 at 9 a.m.
Kapri Whitehead is the birthmother of the twins. She said she wanted to keep her son and daughter but felt constantly pressured to give them up.
"She took me through the ringer. She took me through all this mess. All this type of stuff from my past resurfaced, and I didn't even know nothing about it, and I know that was her doing. I know that was her making me look bad in court," Whitehead said.
Meanwhile Edwards is facing several criminal charges.
Edwards faces a first-degree arson charge stemming from a incident at a former partner's home on June 4, according to court documents.
Court documents also show Edwards is being charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, kidnapping and a charge of causing malicious injury. She was also charged with a first-degree burglary charge in July.
Almost all the criminal charges against Edwards occurred during the same time prosecutors said she was caring for the twin babies thought to be living with Judge LeSure.
DHS confirmed Edwards was a caseworker from June of 2005 to January of 2010. DHS officials said policy would have prohibited her from being an alternative caregiver for the LeSures only if she was the caseworker assigned to that case.