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PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys

Ex-Comanche County Official Accused of Sexual Relationship with 14-year-old Boy

August 21st, 2014

The Comanche County director of emergency management was released from his position after being arrested on charges related to the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy.

Investigators say the mother of the teen contacted police after she allegedly found a sexual conversation with an adult man in the boy’s Facebook messages. The woman said she became suspicious that something was going on and checked the teen’s account after noticing that her son had unexplained cash.

The boy’s father told reporters that initially, they thought their son was hanging around older “troublemaker” teenagers, but when they checked Facebook, they learned their son had been meeting a much older adult male. In some of the instances, the man offered their son cash or cigarettes in exchange for sexual conduct.

Police were notified of the illicit Facebook conversation, which led them to 61-year-old Clinton Lee Wagstaff, a Comanche County official.

The 14-year-old allegedly told police that he and Wagstaff had an inappropriate relationship between May and July of this year. He said that the two would watch pornography together and masturbate, and that on at least two occasions, there was sexual contact between the man and the teen.

Wagstaff was arrested on multiple felony complaints, including forcible sodomy, rape by instrumentation, online solicitation of a minor, exposing a minor to obscene material, and lewd acts in the presence of a child.

At a court hearing last week, Wagstaff requested a public defender for his case.

If formal charges against Wagstaff are filed for the complaints on which he was arrested, the former director of emergency management faces significant prison time if convicted:

  • Forcible sodomy (21 O.S. § 888): felony, up to 20 years in prison
  • Second degree rape by instrumentation (21 O.S. §1111.1): felony, up to 15 years in prison
  • Soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology (21 O.S. § 1040.13a): felony, up to 10 years in prison
  • Lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16 (21 O.S. § 1123): felony, up to 20 years in prison. Both exposing a minor to obscene materials (§ 1123-d)and lewd acts in the presence of a minor (§ 1123-e) are included in this statute.

All of the above offenses requires sex offender registration under Oklahoma law. Soliciting minors online is a Level 2 sex offense that requires registration every six months for 25 years. The remaining offenses are all Level 3 sex crimes that require lifetime sex offender registration. Learn more about Oklahoma sex offender registration requirements.

Doctor Accused in Overdose Deaths Pleads Guilty

August 18th, 2014

Former Oklahoma City doctor William Valuck, 71, made headlines late last year when he was arrested in Texas and charged with nine counts of first degree murder and 73 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Valuck was accused of overprescribing prescription drugs, including highly addictive and powerful narcotic painkillers, and of illegally prescribing drugs without actually physically examining the patients as required by law. Most of Valuck’s patients were prescribed a combination of hydrocodone, a narcotic painkiller; alprazolam, and anti-anxiety drug; and carisoprodol, a muscle relaxer.

Valuck’s murder charges came after eight patients died of drug overdoses–some within only a day or two of receiving a prescription from Dr. Valuck. The ninth charge, which was ultimately dismissed, was related to a traffic fatality in an accident caused by one of Valuck’s patients who was under the influence of prescription drugs.

Last week, the former doctor accepted a plea deal which significantly reduced the penalties he was facing for the first degree murder charges and the multiple drug distribution charges. Valuck pleaded guilty to eight counts of second degree murder, and the remaining charges were dismissed.

He was sentenced to one year in prison for each murder count, bringing the total to 8 years. Because second degree murder is one of Oklahoma’s 85 percent crimes, the former physician will have to spend nearly 7 years in prison before he becomes eligible for parole.

Oklahoma First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland told reporters that prosecutors would ordinarily find a sentence of 8 years for 8 homicides much too light. However, given Valuck’s age and the length of time a trial would have taken, eight years could reasonably be considered a life sentence anyway:

“There aren’t very many cases in this world that I would even consider a single-digit sentence for any sort of homicide. Realistically, we’re talking about pleading to most or all of the remaining years that he has left. So, in this case, we felt like eight years in prison was just.

On the flip side, the family gets immediacy, finality. They don’t have to worry about picking up the newspaper every morning for the next few years to see if some appellate court has reversed a jury’s sentence. They don’t have to go through the arduous agony of a jury trial, and perhaps most of all, they get this justice quickly.”

 At the time of his arrest, investigators said that Valuck was the largest prescriber of controlled substances in the state. They said that prior to his arrest in 2013, he was on track to prescribe more than 3.5 million pills, and that his name became so well-known for loose prescriptions that many pharmacies refused to fill his prescriptions.

Rehab Counselor Accused of Lewd Acts, Rape

August 15th, 2014

A Yukon woman has been arrested on complaints of rape and lewd acts with a minor after she allegedly began a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy receiving treatment at the Fort Reno Adolescent Drug and Rehabilitation Center.

The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office says that Amy Maschell Thompson, 32, began a relationship with the boy while she was working as a youth guidance specialist for the rehab center. She allegedly initiated the relationship with the boy shortly after she became employed by the facility in February 2014. Although she quit her job in July after only five months’ employment at the center, she is alleged to have continued to have sexual contact with the boy until his mother became aware of the inappropriate relationship earlier this week.

The teen’s mother found Facebook messages between her son and his former counselor after he forgot to log out of his Facebook account on her phone. She  notified law enforcement that the woman had molested her son while he was receiving treatment at the rehabilitation facility.

Investigators say that Thompson admitted to touching the boy on his buttocks and genitals while at the facility and on field trips. They say she also admitted to contacting the boy via Facebook this week to encourage him to sneak out of the house for a sexual liaison at an Oklahoma City hotel. She allegedly told investigators that she provided the boy with alcohol, and when he was drunk, the two had sex.

She was arrested and booked into the Canadian County Jail on complaints of six counts of lewd acts with a child under 16 and one count of first degree rape. She is held on $350,000  bond.

In Oklahoma, no one under the age of 16 may legally consent to sexual activity with an adult. In general, sex with a willing minor aged 14 or older is prosecuted as second degree rape. However, police may be using the boy’s intoxication as grounds to bump up the charge to first degree rape.

There are several factors which cause sexual intercourse to be classified as first degree rape. Among them are the perpetrator’s provision of an “anesthetizing agent” to accomplish the act and the perpetrator’s knowledge that the victim is not fully of what is taking place:

A. Rape in the first degree shall include: . . .

3. rape accomplished where the victim is intoxicated by a narcotic or anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of the accused as a means of forcing the victim to submit; or

4. rape accomplished where the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused; . . . (21 O.S. §1114)

Currently available court records do not indicate that Thompson has been formally charged. If she is ultimately convicted of the crimes for which she is currently held, she faces 5 years to life in prison on the rape complaint and 3 to 20 years in prison for each lewd acts complaint.

Registered Sex Offender Attends Children’s Services at OKC Church

August 11th, 2014

A mother in southwest Oklahoma City is upset after finding out that the church she attends allowed a registered sex offender to participate in a children’s event. The woman says that she observed Dale Robin Hoffert, Jr., in video that her son took at the Children’s Crusade at the church.

Hoffert was convicted of two counts of forcible oral sodomy in 2007 and was given a 10 year sentence with 2 years suspended. He was released from prison in June, and his current residence is listed as Hand Up Ministries, a mobile home park for sex offenders.

The pastor of the church said that Hoffert, the church’s former youth minister, was allowed to participate but was never left alone or unsupervised with any children. He said that his church welcomes all, and that Hoffert has paid his debt to society. The minister said that the church is intended to “help lost souls.”

The angry mother says she does not have a problem with the registered sex offender being allowed to attend the church; however, she feels that it is inappropriate to allow a man with a history of sex crimes against minors to attend and participate in children’s events.

Indeed, Hoffert does have a history of sexual abuse. Not only is Dale Robin Hoffert, Jr., a registered sex offender, but so is his father–and his mother.

Dale Hoffert, Sr., was charged in 1999 with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a child, indecent exposure, child abuse, physically harming a child, and permitting sexual abuse to occur. All counts except one count of sexual abuse of a child were dismissed at the request of the state. He was convicted of child sexual abuse, given a 10-year suspended sentence, and required to register as a sex offender for life.

Thyla Hoffert was charged with permitting sexual abuse to occur. She was given a 5-year deferred sentence and ordered to attend parenting classes. Her attorney filed a motion that she should not be ordered to register under the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act, but that motion was overruled, and she was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Publicly available court records do not specify that Dale Hoffert, Jr., was the victim of his parents’ sex crimes. However, it is not uncommon that victims of sexual abuse continue the cycle of abuse as they get older. While most victims of sexual abuse do not grow up to be sex offenders, research shows that as many as 30 percent of sex offenders were victims of sex abuse themselves.

Drive-In DUI Leads to Arrest in OKC

August 7th, 2014

It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt, or the old adage goes. This may be more true in speaking with police than in any other situation. If there is a recurring theme in this blog, it may be that you should never, ever, ever talk to anyone except your lawyer about your case.

In Oklahoma City early Sunday morning, a man was arrested for DUI at a drive-in theater, and while the evidence was stacked pretty highly against him already, he chose to “open his mouth and remove all doubt.”

According to reports, Curtis Lorenzo Russell, 33, was attempting to leave the drive-in with his girlfriend, but along his way out, he hit multiple vehicles, apparently not noticing and continuing until he finally stopped after rear-ending a vehicle.

Bystanders held Russell for police, and while the multiple accidents and the alleged odor of alcohol, slurry speech, and balance problems were enough to arrest the man for suspicion of DUI, what police say he said to his girlfriend while officers were investigating may have sealed the deal:

“If I hit my gas, I should stop, right?”

No sir, that’s not how driving works.

A passenger of one of the vehicles Russell allegedly hit was transported to a hospital with a neck injury, and Russell was arrested for DUI with injury accident.

Russell also had an outstanding warrant for leaving the scene of an accident in Canadian County. He has prior convictions for possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, illegal possession of valium, and DUI.

From all indications, police had enough evidence of probable cause to arrest Russell for DUI, but his words only add to the evidence against him. When a person is read his or her Miranda rights after an arrest, the arrestee is informed that whatever he or she says can and will be used against him or her in court. This is not an empty threat, and it is important that people understand that this right to silence applies not only after an arrest, but also before. Saying things like, “I only had two beers,” will just give evidence for an arrest. It won’t convince police that you haven’t had too much to drink.

Similarly, saying things like, “I thought she was 18,” or “I know she’s young, but we only fooled around a little–we didn’t have sex,” are enough for a second degree rape or lewd acts with minors arrest. Both of those offenses are felony sex crimes requiring lifetime sex offender registration.

You may think you are clearing things up with police. You may feel like your statements are demonstrating your innocence or mitigating the offense. Nothing could be further from the truth. Keep your mouth shut and let police think you look guilty; don’t open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Del City Man Faces Federal Assault Charge

August 4th, 2014

A high speed chase from Tinker Air Force Base resulted in a federal assault charge for a Del City man.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, James Williams, 60, was charged with assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon after he nearly hit a Senior Airman with his SUV as he attempted to flee the base.

The press release indicates that, on June 26, Tinker AFB law enforcement responded to a call of a man acting suspiciously, and when they attempted to pull him over, he tried to get away, leading officers on a high speed chase. Prosecutors say that when the airman tried to close a gate to prevent the suspect from leaving the base, Williams accelerated toward her, almost striking her with his vehicle.

Williams allegedly led Tinker law enforcement and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers on a chase in which the vehicles reached speeds upwards of 100 miles per hour. Williams was identified as the owner of the vehicle involved in the chase, and he was arrested three days later.

Typically, assault and battery cases are tried in the state courts. However, assault which occurs on federal property or involves a federal officer falls under the jurisdiction of the United States government.

Assaulting a federal officer is found in the United States Code in 18 U.S.C § 111. In this statute, it is a federal felony to “assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with” any officer or employee of the United States government or its agencies while that officer or employee is performing his or her duties or because of the performance of those duties. This statute also pertains to the assault of former federal officers or employees when the assault is committed in relation to the person’s duties during his or her time of service.

The penalties for assault of a federal officer depend on certain factors of the offense:

  • Assault that does not include physical contact carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison
  • Assault that occurs during the commission of another felony or which involves physical contact with the federal officer carries a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison
  • Assault of a federal officer with a dangerous or deadly weapon or assault which inflicts bodily injury brings a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison

Federal cases that occur in the metro area are prosecuted by United States attorneys in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The Western District of Oklahoma is the largest judicial district in the state, representing 40 of the state’s 77 counties.

Oklahoma also has federal courts for the Northern and Eastern districts.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma is based in Tulsa and covers the following counties: Craig, Creek, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Rogers, Tulsa, and Washington.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is based in Muskogee and covers the following counties: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole, Sequoyah, and Wagoner.

Chickasha Man Alleged to Possess 3,000 Images of Child Porn

July 31st, 2014

Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested a Chickasha man on complaints of possession of child pornography.

Investigators arrested Larry Francis Thompson, 59, and obtained a search warrant to search the suspect’s online storage, cell phone, and laptop. They allegedly discovered more than 3,000 images of child pornography.

Thompson, a registered sex offender, was booked into the Grady County Jail on complaints of possession of obscene materials, aggravated possession of child pornography, and violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

Possession of child pornography, a Level 1 sex offense, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison, and anyone convicted must register as a sex offender for 15 years. However, a second or subsequent sex crime conviction bumps a person to risk Level 3, which requires lifetime sex offender registration.

While possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, aggravated possession of child pornography brings much steeper consequences:

“Any person who, with knowledge of its contents, possesses one hundred (100) or more separate materials depicting child pornography shall be, upon conviction, guilty of aggravated possession of child pornography. The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not exceeding life imprisonment and by a fine in an amount not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). The violator, upon conviction, shall be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offenders Registration Act.” (21 O.S. 1040.12a)

Violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act is a separate felony charge that can be applied to any offense which uses computer technology to facilitate breaking any state law. It is often charged in conjunction with internet sex crimes including online solicitation of minors and downloading child pornography. Using a computer system or network to violate any of the Oklahoma statutes is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These penalties are in addition to any levied for the underlying crime.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) works to recover missing children and to identify and rescue victims of child sexual exploitation. The organization analyzes images of child pornography to identify victims of sexual exploitation through its Child Victim Identification Program, and it has obtained more than 2.3 million reports of suspected child sexual abuse and exploitation through its CyberTipline.

Online activities can seem anonymous, but law enforcement agents, including ICAC task force agents, may be conducting undercover sting operations at any time. Groups such as the NCMEC are dedicated to preventing child exploitation and work diligently to identify and report suspected child sexual abuse. While technological advances have made it easier for some to access child pornography, those same advances allow law enforcement to track, identify, and prosecute those engaged in the sexual exploitation of children through downloading or distributing child pornography.

Youthful Offender in Pharmacy Shooting Faces New Charges

July 28th, 2014

In May 2009, two masked teenagers, one of them armed, stormed into Reliable Discount Pharmacy in an attempt to rob the place. The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, opened fire, killing one of the would-be robbers and sending his armed companion fleeing. When the smoke cleared, 16-year-old Antwun “Speedy” Parker lay dead. His cohort, 14-year-old Jevontai Ingram escaped.

As a result of the attempted pharmacy robbery, Jerome Ersland was convicted of murder for continuing to shoot the already-incapacitated Parker. Emanual Mitchell and Anthony Morrison, the two men who sent the teens in to rob the pharmacy, were convicted of felony murder. Jevontai Ingram, an eighth-grader when the crime occurred, was convicted as a youthful offender of felony murder.

Ingram spent about three years in custody before being released at the age of 18. Upon his release, Ingram told reporters that he looked forward to earning a high school diploma, playing college basketball, and becoming a probation officer in order to help people. He said he wanted to leave the state to get a fresh start.

Unfortunately, Ingram’s plans to start new with a clean slate have not panned out. Instead, he has continually been in trouble since his release in 2012, and he now faces a litany of serious charges.

Shortly after his release, Ingram’s mother accused him of vandalizing her car by stomping on the hood and roof and smashing the windshield and rear window. He was not charged in that incident, but by December 2013, he was accused of gun violence.

In that case, Ingram was allegedly involved in a shoot-out with another man, a gang member identified as “Nutso.” In the pending case, Ingram is charged with being in possession of a firearm after delinquent adjudication in violation of 21 O.S. 1283:

It shall be unlawful for any person convicted of any felony in any court of this state or of another state or of the United States to have in his or her possession or under his or her immediate control, or in any vehicle which the person is operating, or in which the person is riding as a passenger, or at the residence where the convicted person resides, any pistol, imitation or homemade pistol, altered air or toy pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun or rifle, or any other dangerous or deadly firearm.

Now, Ingram is accused of more violence. Earlier this month, two women filed protective orders against Ingram, including a pregnant woman who says the man attacked her in late June. In that case, the woman accused Ingram of kicking in her door, holding her against the wall by her throat, and kneeing her in the stomach as she tried to call for help. The woman says that she was able to escape, but when she returned home, she discovered that her attacker had doused her clothes in bleach.

As a result of the incident, Ingram is charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, domestic abuse by strangulation, domestic abuse against a pregnant woman and malicious destruction of property.

Man Sentenced for Rape of Classmates at Tulsa Convention

July 24th, 2014

More than two years ago, we brought you the story of Brandon Brady, then a 19-year-old student with the High Plains Technology Center in Woodward. Brady had accompanied several special needs classmates on an overnight field trip to a Skills USA competition in Tulsa. While staying at the Doubletree Hotel for the convention, Brady raped each of his two roommates on consecutive days.

Brady was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on two counts of first degree rape, and there he remained for the next two years. Earlier this week, Brady waived his right to a trial and pleaded guilty to both charges. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for each count, and Tulsa County District Judge Kurt Glassco ordered that the two counts be served consecutively. Additionally, first degree rape in an 85 percent crime which requires that at least 85 percent of the sentence is served before the inmate obtains even the possibility of parole.

Initially, Brady was charged with first degree rape by force and fear, or in the alternative, first degree rape of a mentally incapacitated person. As disposed, the conviction shows Brady guilty of forcible rape.

Oklahoma rape laws define first degree rape in 18 O.S.§ 1114. Rape is non-consensual sexual penetration, and it is classified by its severity as either first degree rape or second degree rape. Second degree rape, also known as statutory rape, is typically marked by sex with a person who, although a willing participant in the act, is legally unable to consent to sex because of age, custodial status, or student status. First degree rape is the more serious offense, and it involves one or more of the following acts of non-consensual sex:

  • rape of a child under 14 by a person over 18
  • rape of a person who is incapable of giving legal consent due to mental illness or “unsoundness of mind”
  • rape accomplished by the intoxication of the victim
  • rape of a person who is “unconscious of the nature of the act”
  • use of force, violence, or threat of force or violence to accomplish a rape
  • rape by instrumentation resulting in bodily harm
  • rape by instrumentation committed against a child under 14

It is interesting in the Brady case that both he and his victims suffered some degree of mental incapacity. However, the sentencing judge noted that Brady himself had only mild learning disabilities, but his victims had “far greater mental incapacity — Down syndrome and severe mental retardation.” In determining what he believed to be an appropriate sentence, Judge Glassco said that the young man, now 22, exploited the mental disabilities of his roommates.

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PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys