New Prosecutor Takes On Investigation Into Grady County Elected Officials
GRADY COUNTY, Oklahoma - Newly released letters from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter outline what's next in a massive state investigation.
In January 2019, News 9 confirmed more than a dozen Grady County elected officials had been overpaid for a decade.
From July 2008 to July 2018, the state auditor’s office estimates those officials were overpaid a combined total of $727,000.
Pages of the investigative audit outline that money came in the form of annual raises, starting back in 2008.
Former State Auditor Gary Jones presided over that investigation, and adds his office warned the county board to not approve a desired 18 percent raise. He said they did not head that advice.
“If they would have followed the advice at this time, it wouldn't have happened,” said Jones.
He said the county failed again. Not only did they pass the raises, Jones said, throughout the years, they failed to keep track of salaries as they climbed.
“They approved overall budgets. They did not approve salaries for the elected officials,” said Jones.
Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks has recently recused himself from the case. He told AG Hunter, he will likely have to represent those listed in the audit.
"…it would be in the best interest of the citizens of Grady County that the special prosecutor present evidence to the Multi-County Grand Jury," writes Hicks. "I am confident that the majority of the officials involved had no knowledge of the over-payment" because they "came into office after the over-payment began..."
District Attorney Angela Marsee, of District 2, will now take on the case. She has asked for the assistance of the DA from District 21, Greg Mashburn.
Marsee is charged with determining what went wrong, and who could be to blame. She provided the following statement:
“I can confirm I have been assigned by the AG Office. My office is in the process of reviewing the audit as well as the accompanying documentation and investigation. Also, reviewing the applicable criminal and civil laws that may be implicated by the facts in the investigation.”
They also have to figure out if and when officials will have to pay back the money.
Hicks’ letter asks investigators to keep in mind, employees have already paid taxes on that income. He said that only adds to the complexity of the issue.