OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Officials with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office are speaking out about allegations made against Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater by a former county investigator.
Last month, News 4 learned about a tort claim with wrongful termination allegations against Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater by his former investigator, William Muller.
In the claim, Muller alleges, “Mr. Prater in his own words felt that any reform to criminal justice was ‘bull****,'” and that he was unlawfully seeking “incriminating or compromising” information about former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Kris Steele. The claim goes on to refer to Steele as “one of the most visible leaders of the criminal justice reform movement in Oklahoma.”
The claim also alleges Prater wanted to review donations from the ACLU to Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and requested a multi-county grand jury investigation without probable cause.
When Muller allegedly couldn’t find any wrongdoing in those grand jury documents, according to the claim, “Mr. Prater became irrational and angry upon learning about the outcomes” of Mr. Muller’s findings. Muller claims that’s why he was fired.
When asked about the allegations, Prater denied any wrongdoing.
"These allegations are ridiculous. I am unable to respond due to legal restrictions on revealing why someone may have been terminated. There is a personal vendetta behind these allegations. This was carefully orchestrated to be released during a week, when I would be busy, in a courtroom, with a very important trial, doing the work the people of Oklahoma County elected me to do. Because of that important work, I`m unable to fully respond at this time," Prater told News 4.
This week, Muller's attorney made another claim, alleging that Prater asked Pottawatomie County District Attorney Alan Grubb to wiretap Steele's phone. Muller's attorney says Grubb refused.
Now, officials with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter's Office are addressing the allegations, saying there was not a way for Prater to independently issue a grand jury subpoena to investigate Steele.
In a letter obtained by News 4, Chief Deputy Mary Ann Roberts wrote to Muller's attorney, saying,
"One of the tools provided by the [Multi-County Grand Jury] is the use of subpoenas duces tecum. The subpoena is used to gather information which is then analyzed to determine whether or not a crime may have been committed. It is the practice of district attorneys statewide to use this essential tool. As important as it is to law enforcement to gather evidence supporting the prosecution of crime, it is also vital that law enforcement have sufficient information to determine that no criminal wrong-doing occurred.
Prosecutors routinely avail themselves of MCGJ subpoenas. A request for a subpoena is made, and MCGJ staff prepares a subpoena. The subpoena is then subject to judicial review prior to issuance. If, after evaluation, the judge signs the subpoena, it is issued by the Court Clerk and served on the proper party. For more than 30 years, district attorneys in Oklahoma have used this process to gather evidence."
Although Muller claims that Prater "became irrational and angry" after the grand jury found no wrongdoing, Roberts says Prater is actually the one who decided not to go further with the investigation.
"Some investigations reveal evidence of criminal acts and other investigations reveal that no criminal behavior occurred. It is not at all unusual for a prosecutor to determine criminal charges should not be pursued after evaluating material produced via a MCGJ subpoena. It appears that in this matter, that is just what happened - the District Attorney made the decision not to seek an indictment or file an information after assessing material produced per a MCGJ subpoena," the letter states.
When it comes to the new allegation that Prater sought a wiretap from Pottawatomie County, Roberts says they found no evidence that any conversation about a wiretap ever occurred.
"Finally, communication with Alan Grubb, District Attorney for District 23, indicates no request for wiretap, or other similar investigation, was made to his office. He has confirmed that he never had any conversation with David Prater about Kris Steele or the allegations in your November 1, 2019 letter," the letter read.
Muller's attorney, Robert Gifford, II, responded to the letter, saying he stands behind the accusations.
When it comes to the wiretap allegation, Gifford says that Grubb was asked about it "at the secretive Oklahoma District Attorney's Association meeting. While it appears that I was not fully correct on D.A. Prater making the personal request, the request was in fact made."
Gifford also stands by the accusations that the subpoena didn't go through the proper channels.
"I am very familiar with the subpoena process; however, your letter is grossly misleading in that you are attempting to portray that these subpoenas were presented to a judge where he or she was told D.A. Prater was investigating Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, Kris Steele, and the ACLU, and it was authorized. That never happened. Most notably, your letter does not address the shocking fact that there was neither the required probable cause, much less reasonable suspicion, for D.A. David Prater to conduct a private investigation," he wrote.