GRADY COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A Grady County District 1 commissioner and his assistant are facing multiple felony charges Wednesday. It all stems from an incident where court documents say they placed a camera in two county employees’ offices to secretly record their conversations.
Court documents said it was all to figure out who was talking and what they were saying to a district attorney about an embezzlement investigation against commissioner Michael Walker. Walker was arrested for embezzling $30,000 in county funds in May 2021 to improve a private road. He is set to face trial for that in March. Adding on to that, Walker is now facing charges of unlawful communication, intimidation of witnesses and conspiracy. He’s also up against several allegations of now-fired county employees who say Walker fired them illegally. His assistant is facing all the same except intimidation of witnesses.
“You’ve got to wonder what’s going on in Grady County,” said Mark Hammons, an attorney representing multiple now-fired and one current employee of Grady County with allegations against Walker.
Court documents detailed the unraveling situation, calling the device put in employee offices a “camera disguised as a motion detector.”
“You cannot secretly record video or audio of people having conversations,” Hammons said.
Several now fired employees provided information to the district attorney in Walker’s embezzlement case.
“When you speak to law enforcement and provide information to help deter a crime or to apprehend a criminal, that’s protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Hammons said.
The documents state that around November of 2021, Walker told an employee that “when he filed to run for office again, he would fire … all who crossed him.”
The device was allegedly placed behind an employee’s desk at the Grady County District 1 Maintenance Building, and when that employee went on vacation, it was moved to another employee’s office.
“The commissioner actually put out a statement through his attorney which alleged that he had a right to eavesdrop on the clients based on some claim that they thought they were trying to avoid the faster loss of material, which had never been reported and simply is not true,” Hammons said. “He essentially admitted that he engaged in the criminal activity.”
It was installed, according to the documents, in March 2021 and was present as late as December 2021. Documents state when a search warrant was executed in early December at the office, a “camera disguised as a motion detector, along with the DVR and monitor” were retrieved. In late December, employees were fired. A couple fired employees said they “felt as if they were both being intimidated by the things Walker was saying and doing. The intimidation ramped up after discovery on the initial embezzlement charge.”
However, Walker and Locke’s attorney Bret Burns paints a different picture. His full statement can be read below:
“Both men continue to deny guilt in the strongest possible way. Mike Walker has asked for a speedy trial to resolve these issues but the District Attorney assigned to this case has been too busy to conduct a jury trial. These new charges are continuing to be made by employees that County Commissioner Mike Walker terminated. The County barn at issue did have a security system in place and this system was purchased by disgruntled former county employee Jana Titler. Disgruntled former county employee Jeff Autry had access through his phone to view every camera in the county barn system. To say that this video recording system was secret or illegal is an outright false allegation. The O.S.B.I. agent in charge of this case should be ashamed of herself for getting involved in an employment termination case. We believe the O.S.B.I. agent in charge (Brenna Alvarez) of this case has also abused her position and violated the law by exceeding her authority. We look forward to our day in court.”BRET BURNS, ATTORNEY
We’re told Walker has not stepped down or been removed from his county seat at this time.
“How do you have someone who is under indictment for a variety of criminal offenses, voting, spending, county money and engaging in county business,” Hammons said.
Hammons also stated that the camera used to record the conversations was purchased with county money.