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Three Tulsa police officers, former ATF agent sentenced

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Updated: 12/07/2011 9:23 am Published: 12/06/2011 10:21 am

A Tulsa judge sentences three former Tulsa police officers and a federal agent for their roles in a corruption scandal.

A mix of severe and light punishments for the men who once wore a badge.

TPD Officer Jeff Henderson and retired officers Harold Wells and JJ Gray were sentenced along with former ATF Agent Brandon McFadden.

Many family members and friends filled the courtroom, many in tears after the judge read the sentence.

Special U.S. Judge Bruce Black told Corporal Wells his sentencing decision was the most difficult.

Wells was sentenced to the minimum ten years in prison for stealing and dealing drugs and money in an FBI sting. 

Judge Black told Wells it would have been a different outcome for Wells, 60, had he gone through a bench trial, one in front of a judge. He says the resolution would have not have been the same as his co-defendants who were acquitted.

The judge said he was concerned with Wells age, and his health.  

Retired Corporal Harold Wells received ten years in prison, the most severe out of all the officers. A jury convicted him on five counts for dealing and selling drugs and stealing money.

The judge threw out a gun charge.

After serving his ten years, Wells will also serve five years probation.

The judge thought highly of Wells and that was hard for his family to hear.

“The Tulsa news had him convicted before he went in there,” says a Wells family member.

Wells faced up to 29 years in prison.

A federal judge who has a history of a maximum punishments said he didn’t cut corners for Officer Jeff Henderson.

With credit for time served and good behavior Henderson could be free in less than two years. He was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison and three years probation.

Judge Black told Henderson in sentencing he was staying with the guidelines, “I am convinced that there was substantial evidence on the convicted charges as well as some of the other counts."

A jury convicted Henderson in August on eight of 53 counts, including two counts of civil rights violations and six counts of perjury.

He could have faced seven to 32 years in prison.

“Mr. McFadden’s testimony was corroborated independently by other witnesses and Mr. McFadden told the truth,” says McFadden’s attorney Neal Kirkpatrick.

The two men who testified for the government got lighter sentences.

McFadden pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy, which carries a maximum of five years.

As part of his cooperation, the judge dismissed three other charges involving meth, firearm while trafficking and money laundering.  

A judge sentenced him to 21 months, one year and nine months in prison and five years probation and substance abuse counseling.

Judge Black echoed his statement to Gray to McFadden, “I appreciate you taking the responsibility unlike some of your co-defendants.

“Mr. McFadden accepted responsibility for what he did,” says Kirkpatrick.

Retired TPD Officer JJ Gray received four months in prison and four years probation.  He pleaded guilty to stealing money an FBI sting. His attorney expected only probation.

“Without his assistance, without his cooperation, nobody may have paid any price. I think that he was critical and key to the government’s investigation,” says Robert “Skip” Durbin.

However, the judge told Gray because he admitted to being directly involved in the corruption, probation wasn’t appropriate. Saying he created a bad name for TPD.

“A stain that will live for at least a generation on the Tulsa Police Department,” says Judge Black.

Officers and informants who worked with and for McFadden and Gray accused them of being the dirtiest.

Both attorneys do not agree.

“If there would have been dirt on McFadden or if he would have been the kind of person who would lie, they would have found it and they didn’t find it because it isn’t there,” says Kirkpatrick.

Some informants accuse Gray of being the mastermind behind the corruption scandal.

“Any form of deception any white lie, would nix this entire deal he has with the government, and so he has been truthful and forthright from the beginning,” says Durbin.

Attorney’s for Henderson, Wells and Gray requested a prison with protective custody. If that is not an option, Henderson’s attorney Robert Wyatt, requested Henderson be placed in Yankton, South Dakota.

McFadden’s attorney requested he serve time near his home in Lubbock, Texas.

The Bureau of Prisons will make the decision where each offender will be assigned.

Gray has 90 days to surrender to US Marshals and McFadden has until January 18th to surrender.

Henderson has been jailed since he was indicted in July, 2010. His attorney says he’s served several months in solitary confinement in the Tulsa County Jail and the rest in limited confinement.

All officers were given the opportunity to give a statement in front of the court. All but Henderson gave a statement.The three officers all apologized to family and the court.

Several letters were written on behalf of the officers. McFadden’s attorney say 159 letters were written on behalf of McFadden. Kirkpatrick says McFadden requested some of the letters.

Officers Nick DeBruin and Bruce Bonham who were tried with Wells, were acquitted on all counts.

Officer Bill Yelton was tried with Henderson and acquitted. He served about 13 months in jail before being acquitted.

All three acquitted officers were at the sentencing hearings today.

A judge denied Henderson’s motion for bail pending an appeal.

Wells’ attorney says he plans to file an appeal. Both offenders have 14 days to file an appeal.

Dozens of witnesses who testifed against the officers were released from prison or had their charges dismissed.

Several civil lawsuits have been filed against TPD, ATF, City of Tulsa and some of the officers.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

watchdog11 - 12/7/2011 1:17 PM
0 Votes
Do any of you remember Officer Travis Ludwig? He was the one who was selling Cocaine out of his patrol car while on duty, his punishment was to resign, he moved to New Mexico, I was told by a friend who lives in N.M and works for the agency who receives background checks for state and municipal employees,that he was applying for the police department there the same week he arrived there, haven't asked if he got a job, but most likely did, I probably shouldn't find out because then I would feel bound to let the police department there know what they hired, and basically it isn't any of my affair, sure is a shame he got to just walk away though, no justice for dirty cops.

watchdog11 - 12/7/2011 1:08 PM
0 Votes
I'm not sure how short the investigation was cut, but I know a lot of charges were thrown out on all of them. This is so bad when the people who are given the power to enforce our laws are not held to the same standard and judgements, if anything they should be punished more severly than regular citizens just because so much trust is given to them as police officers, it is sickening and no doubt makes it much easier for anyone to commit crimes because how can you have respect for the law when they are as bad if not worse than the criminals? Society is truly breaking down.....

Unwashed Mass - 12/7/2011 12:05 AM
0 Votes
The investigation was cut short far too early; there was still a lot of house cleaning to be done. TPD leadership is unrepentant, like an alcoholic denying a drinking problem. There wont be any real reform until all the chiefs are replaced with those that don't put high drug arrest numbers above all else.

watchdog11 - 12/6/2011 10:44 PM
1 Vote
Justice? No, there is none, if any citizen had done what these cops did, they would never see the light of day again, I don't think judges always have concerns about the age and health of suspects, do they? Maybe I am wrong, but I can't remember a single case where the judge apologized to the criminal because he had to sentence him for drug,bribery, corruption (minus the firearms charge he didn't charge Wells with). I'm sorry, I don't even know why we have judges, they don't do their jobs,there is no equal justice practices or enforced any more, so why do the taxpayers pay them? Why do we as a society of laws keep pretending this country has equal justice for all? It's a freaking sick joke and an outright lie.

malcolmkyle - 12/6/2011 4:19 PM
1 Vote
Why should anybody be surprised at Prohibition's innate ability to corrupt entire government agencies? It's more than fairly evident, and especially to those of us whose survival doesn't depend on the continuation of Prohibition, that even if we could afford to put Narcs on every single corner, it is extremely likely that at least half of them would very soon become dealers themselves. So it begs the question: Why on God's green earth do we continue as a nation to foolishly shoot ourselves in both feet? An appeal to all Prohibitionists: Even if you cannot stand the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and over a trillion dollars on this dangerous farce. Practically everybody is now aware that Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. So why do you wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so proud & free nation? Do you actually think you may have something to lose If we were to start basing drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies? Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard or a local politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime-pay, the many kick-backs and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks? Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem. Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

Bekavera1 - 12/6/2011 11:26 AM
2 Votes
IM very happy they got caught. Just because they are police doesn't give them the right to break the law. Cops get away with to much. No wonder people find it hard to trust the system, when the system is corrupt.
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