After all of the accusations of corruption, after dozens of people released from prison or had their charges dropped, it all came down to Wednesday and the verdicts for two Tulsa police officers.
Officer Jeff Henderson was accused of 53 counts but found guilty on eight, including lying about informants to bust drug dealers and lying under oath.
Henderson was acquitted on all meth, marijuana and cocaine charges.
Officer Bill Yelton was acquitted on all eight counts involving civil rights violations, coaching and threatening witnesses.
As family of Officer Jeff Henderson leave the courthouse, their hearts are shattered.
"I think this sends a very loud message,” says U.S. Attorney Jane Duke of the Eastern Arkansas District.
After 23 hours of deliberations, the judge’s clerk read the verdicts. It was not guilty over and over until count 39.
“It takes a courageous man to face the federal government, in times like these, these are difficult charges,” says Henderson’s attorney Robert Wyatt, IV.
Henderson was found guilty on the eights counts connected to just two cases.
The jury believed Henderson lied about an informant to bust an ecstasy dealer.
Carah Bartel pleaded no contest and was given a deferred sentence.
She agreed to testify against her boyfriend William “Eli” Kinnard but she backed out on the stand. Kinnard’s charges were dismissed before the corruption investigation.
The jury found Henderson guilty of violating Kinnard and Bartel’s civil rights.
Ronald Crawford, 36, also a drug felon, was busted by Henderson in 2006.
In a search warrant officers found a gun, which felons cannot posses, and cash stashed under a sink.
Crawford testified he was in Texas when Henderson said he saw him at his Tulsa home while doing surveillance for a search warrant. The prosecution called in his daughter’s principal and bank employee where residency documents and sign in log sheets were shown to the jury. The defense argued Crawford often traveled back and forth from Texas to Tulsa.
The prosecution refuted with a cell phone tower records that showed Henderson’s calls did not register on a tower that would put him at Crawford’s house.
That case cost Henderson six counts of perjury and two civil rights violations.
FOX23 news tried to contact most of the 12 jurors who either had no comment or could not be reached.
Henderson plans to appeal his convictions.
"Jeff Henderson is a courageous man," says Wyatt. Obviously he is disappointed but he's happy the jury listened to him and believed him on the other charges,” said Wyatt. "The family is pleased the jury listened to Jeff, they heard the evidence and they returned a verdict and we intend to appeal,” says Wyatt.
Henderson’s partner Bill Yelton is acquitted and a free after serving 13 months in jail. A judge had denied his bond more than a year ago as he awaited this trial because he was accused of threatening the prosecutions key witness with a gun.
Yelton has been on the force for 26 years and has a decorated career.
"The acquittal says exactly what we have been saying all along and that is Bill Yelton did not do of these things and he is a top cop in this country,” says Yelton’s attorney Scott Graham.
The jury found Henderson and Yelton not guilty on every other charge; in each case someone was released from prison or had charges dropped.
Still prosecutor Jane Duke is convinced those she helped release from prison because of the corruption trial deserved their freedom.
"I don't have any qualms that where we have serious questions about the integrity of the judicial proceeding that convictions were set a aside,” says Duke. “I think good law enforcement work would have kept a lot of these people behind bars where they probably should have been."
Duke calls today a victory.
"We did get guilty verdicts so it's not disappointing at all in that regard. I think that any time you go to trial against law enforcement officers you have an uphill battle,” says Duke. "I think when you have witnesses that admit to criminal conduct, admit to doing a lot of illegal things and lying under oath. You've got an uphill battle and we knew going into this."
Henderson faces five years in prison. His attorney asked the judge to release Henderson until he is sentenced. However, that judge could not make the decision, the motion will need to be taken up with the judge over the case federal judge Bruce Black of New Mexico.
Henderson has been in jail for 13 months and if he stays in jail until sentencing he could get credit for time served. A sentencing date has been not been set.
Prosecution’s key witnesses former ATF Agent Brandon McFadden made a plea deal; in exchange for his truthful testimony he could received a shorter sentence.
Retired Tulsa police Officer JJ Gray also pleaded guilty and in exchange for his cooperation; he could receive probation.
He did not testify in the Henderson and Yelton case.
It is unknown if the verdicts will effect the plea deal.
Sentencing dates for Wells, McFadden, Gray and Henderson have not been set.
Five civil suits have been filed against the City of Tulsa and TPD.
TPD released this statement about the Yelton/Henderson verdict:
"The Tulsa Police Department fully supports the decision of the jury in this case. It is with deep regret, that we see the actions of a few have damaged the image and reputation of the men and women of the Tulsa Police Department. These courageous officers remain committed, on a daily basis, to serve and protect the citizens of Tulsa.
From the onset, all levels of the department have cooperated with the investigation, identified any weaknesses in policy and procedures, taken action to correct deficiencies, and strengthened operations to reduce the possibility of any future misconduct.
The Tulsa Police Department remains committed to equal justice for all citizens, including its own officers. Indeed, with the implementation of a zero tolerance policy, we demand that our officers hold themselves to an even higher standard.
At this time, the Internal Affairs Division will begin an investigation to determine whether any officer involved violated department policies and procedures."
In June, retired Corporal Harold Wells was convicted on five corruption charges in a separate case. On Monday, Judge Black dropped a gun charge against Wells, however he denied a motion for acquittal and releasing him before sentencing. He faced a maximum 15 years in prison and now faces 10 years. Two of his co-defendants were acquitted on all counts. Officers Nick DeBruin and Bruce Bonham are on paid suspension while TPD investigates the case to their jobs back.