OKLAHOMA CITY – The states’ Pardon and Parole Board is on the wrong side of the law.
All five board members turned themselves into the Oklahoma County Jail Thursday morning.
The move comes a day after District Attorney David Prater filed misdemeanor charges accusing the board of violating the Open Meetings Act.
The board members didn’t spend much time in the jail, just long enough to have their mugshots and fingerprints taken.
Each then quickly bonded out.
Board chair Marc Dreyer, Currie Ballard, Lynnell Harkins, David Moore and Richard Dugger all left jail without commenting on the allegations against them.
The legal trouble began last August when Prater sent a letter to the board accusing them of repeatedly violating the Open Meeting Act, allegedly placing 51 inmates on a so-called “secret hearings” list that didn’t appear on any public agenda.
Prater offered each board member the chance to resign or face criminal charges.
After all five refused to back down and the DA to followed through on his threat this week.
The state’s top executive, Gov. Mary Fallin, criticized Prater for filing the charges.
“Filing criminal charges against parole board members that have already worked to address Mr. Prater’s concerns will have a chilling effect on individuals interested in public service. It is difficult to imagine men and women who are leaders in their communities wishing to serve in these positions if they are constantly in fear of being charged with a crime.”
The criminal charges are only misdemeanors but they could result in a maximum $500 fine and a year in county jail.