OKC Councilman Appears In Court, Pleads Not Guilty
OKLAHOMA CITY - District 7 Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis made his first court appearance Tuesday morning on felony embezzlement charges. Pettis pleaded not guilty to three charges of embezzlement and one charge of tax evasion.
Pettis remained silent in front of local media as he left the Oklahoma County Jail Tuesday morning. He turned himself in at the jail just before 8 a.m. and was released nearly an hour later on a $10,000 bond.
He then went with his attorney to the county courthouse for an arraignment hearing where he maintained his innocence.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney has charged Pettis with embezzlement and tax fraud. It is alleged Pettis pocketed more than $150,000 in donations made to three charities he founded and controlled.
Northeast Oklahoma City community members are reacting to the allegations. Community leaders said they are disappointed, but they are standing by his side.
“I didn’t know about the charities or foundations,” said Pastor Ray Douglas, Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church. “That was a surprise to me.”
Pastor Douglas is only aware of Pettis's work in the community. Douglas has hosted the councilman's town hall meetings at his church and considers him a friend. He was saddened to hear of the charges brought against Pettis.
“It was a sinking feeling,” said Douglas. “Because I think he is a good man. I know the work he has done politically has been good for the northeast Oklahoma City.”
Douglas said he has reached out to Pettis to let him know his congregation is standing by him during the investigation and court hearing process.
“A lot of times people are with you as long as our are doing well,” said Douglas. “When trouble comes, they abandon you and I don’t think that’s the Christian way.”
Pettis's next court appearance is set for June 14.