The former attorney for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is accused of falsifying death threats against herself and has been charged in Oklahoma County district court.
Julia Marie Ezell was charged Tuesday. She faces three counts of using a computer to send herself death threats and then falsely report a made-up crime. Ezell resigned as health department general counsel on Friday.
Her resignation letter read:
Effectively immediately I resign my position as General Counsel of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
I am so sorry.
Her resignation came days after the department adopted rules for the implementation of medical marijuana across the state.
According to an affidavit, two days before those rules were adopted, on July 8, the 37-year-old Ezell received the first in a string of emailed threats. Between July 8 and July 12, the affidavit reports, Ezell received nearly a dozen such emails, many of which she reported to authorities at the Health Department.
“There were several emails over several days,” said OSBI Special Agent Jordan Solorzano, “some were sent twice a day, some just once a day, but this was a pattern of emails over several days.”
OSBI officials say the emails were meant to look like they were coming from angry medical marijuana supporters. The first email read: "We will stop YOU and you're [sic] greed. Any way it takes to end your evil and protect what is ours."
Later the same day, Ezell received another email: "We would hate to hurt a pretty lady. You will hear us. We are just beginning."
Others emails appear to have been written to suggest that the perpetrators were stalking Ezell and watching her at home.
On July 11: "you appear distinguished in glasses. Wear them for the camera." Later the same day: "Julia is home. All alone?"
The OSBI was contacted July 9 by an investigator with the Health Department, asking for assistance in tracing the source of the threat, and providing protection to Ezell.
“The OSBI takes threats to public officials very seriously,” said Solorzano. “In this case, nine OSBI agents, three Edmond police officers, and two officers with the OU Health Sciences Center were assigned to the case, just to assure Miss Ezell’s safety.”
But now investigators are convinced there never was a threat to Ezell’s safety. An examination of her cell phone, the affidavit says, showed the account used to send the threatening emails was created by Ezell the same day the first message was sent. An agent confronted her with the evidence last Friday, and Ezell allegedly confessed to it all.
Within minutes of that meeting, Ezell emailed her letter of resignation to Health Department Interim Commissioner Tom Bates.
Ezell's attorney, Ed Blau, released this statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We are aware of the charges filed today by the Oklahoma County District Attorney. Julie Ezell has worked as a loyal and dedicated public servant her entire career as a lawyer. These charges do not reflect who she is as a person, nor do they reflect the type of advocate she has been for the people of the State of Oklahoma. These allegations will be answered, and additional relevant information will be provided by us at the appropriate time.”