Authorities Investigate Corruption Within Marlow Police Force

Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 12:07 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

MARLOW, Oklahoma -- A defense attorney fighting what he calls "corrupt cops" is now getting some help from state and federal authorities.

Several Marlow police officers have been accused of abusing their power and ignoring the law. Most residents in Marlow said this "corruption" is nothing new.

As you enter the city of Marlow, there's a sign that welcomes visitors to "Outlaw Country" but some feel the town's police force gives that message a more literal meaning. The District Attorney is one of them.

"I don't completely trust some of the officers at Marlow," said Stephens County District Attorney Bret Burns.

Burns said he's deeply disturbed by the stories coming out and has asked for state and federal investigators to take a closer look.

"There are multiple things happening in Marlow. There has been. They range from police officers stealing money from traffic arrests, from officers kicking in wrong doors of houses, to police officers exceeding their authority inside and outside their city limits," Burns said.

The most recent case involved a suspected drug dealer, but the judge threw the case out because Marlow Police Chief Bob Hill and his officers, Randy Johnson and Rodney Richards, lied under oath.

It was determined that the officers were out of their jurisdiction when they started chasing the suspect. In addition, lab tests conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigated showed some of the drugs Officer Richards submitted as evidence are now missing. Investigators also said audio recording of the chase submitted by Officer Johnson was doctored.

"That first tape was a manufactured, bogus tape!" said defense attorney Jim Kee.

Kee, who represented the drug suspects, said he's pleased to hear the chief and the officers have been suspended because of their tainted testimony, but he and others said Officer Tony Aguilera also tampered with the tapes and should be on leave with the rest.

Aguilera told NEWS 9 he had no comment on the matter and said he did not doctor any tapes.

Kee said this is just one of many cases he's been a part of where these same Marlow officers were caught on the wrong side of the law.

In 2006, Officer Richards was indicted for lying to investigators but was never convicted. He's also part of a pending federal case, in which he and others are accused of violating the civil rights of a homeowner.

In another case earlier this year, charges against a burglary suspect were dismissed after a judge learned Officer Aguilera forced his way into a home without permission or a warrant.

Kee said there's a lot more and it's why he's likely to petition for a grand jury to further investigate these and others cases.

"People have been afraid, afraid because of these officers," Kee said.

Just last month, the Marlow City Council announced it was launching its own investigation, but a majority of residents told NEWS 9 that it's too late. They said the damage is done and the city manager should have taken action on these officers long ago.

"Why aren't these gentlemen fired?" asked NEWS 9's Rusty Surette.

"The specific allegations, all I know is what I've read in the newspaper, about those specifically. The D.A. has not presented those to me formally," said Janice Cain, City of Marlow administrator.

"As city administrator, why don't you know more than what's in the newspaper?" Surette asked.

"Um, that is part of the ongoing investigation of what is occurring and the fact finding and the gathering of that data, in order to see what is occurring and has occurred," Cain said.

Chief Bob Hill and Officers Richards and Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Burns said he's waiting to see what the FBI and OSBI find in their investigations before deciding if he'll file criminal charges.

Coming up Tuesday on NEWS 9 at 10, Rusty Surette will introduce you to two families who say they've lost loved ones because of the negligence of Marlow Police.

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