TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Some friends and family members of Tulsa County’s sheriff, including the daughter of a reserve deputy who shot and killed an unarmed suspect last month, have each received tens of thousands of dollars per year for part-time property appraisal work the sheriff gave them, court records show.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1cvYCjv) that the appraisal jobs are a form of political patronage that sheriffs throughout Oklahoma hand out and that it’s perfectly legal. There have been calls for Glanz to resign over the April 2 shooting of Eric Harris by Glanz’s longtime friend Robert Bates, who is a reserve deputy.
Glanz told the newspaper that he appoints people to the sheriff’s appraiser positions as a reward for supporting him and serving the community. Each of the 12 appointees made more than $30,000 last year doing the part-time work, but workers have netted more than $70,000 a year in the past, according to Tulsa County District Court records.
“I’m sure there’s maybe a perception problem, but I don’t consider it one,” said Glanz, who didn’t respond to a phone message or email from The Associated Press requesting comment Friday.
Glanz appointed Bates’ daughter, Leslie McCrary, in 2010, and she has earned nearly $250,000. Deborah Brewster, the wife of Bates’ attorney Clark Brewster, has earned more than $580,000 since 2004. The Brewsters’ daughter, Cassie Barkett, has netted nearly $235,000 since her 2010 appointment.
The workers are each paid $99 per appraisal to assess the value of foreclosed properties to be sold at sheriff’s auctions. The fees are typically paid by the homebuyer in the foreclosure process, and not by taxpayers.
The position and payments are set out in state law, which requires the sheriff to make appointments.
“All the sheriffs in the state of Oklahoma have it,” Glanz said. “I have 12 because if three persons only did it, think how much money they’d make in a year.”
Bates’ daughter was appointed by Glanz a few years after her father joined the department as a volunteer deputy. The 73-year-old Bates has been a longtime friend of Glanz’s and has donated tens of thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to the sheriff’s office.
Bates has pleaded not guilty second-degree manslaughter in the April 2 shooting death of Eric Harris, saying he confused his handgun and stun gun after Harris ran from authorities during a sting operation involving gun sales. Bates is white and Harris was black, but the victim’s brother has said he does not believe race played a role in the shooting.
Presiding District Judge Rebecca Nightengale on Friday approved a petition filed by We The People Oklahoma, a civil rights group. It asks for an investigation into whether Glanz neglected his duties and whether reservists who gave gifts to Glanz were given special treatment. It does not specifically mention the appraiser positions.
The group has 45 days to collect 5,000 signatures from county voters to authorize an order impaneling the jury.
Brewster told the AP on Friday that his daughter and wife are well qualified to serve as appraisers and that any suggestion of a quid pro quo connected to campaign contributions is preposterous.
“The question becomes, for anyone in public service, do I appoint people that I know and trust and like that I can meet and speak with, or do I appoint total strangers for fear that somebody will accuse me of showing favoritism?” Brewster said.
Brewster, a longtime supporter of Glanz, said he also welcomed the grand jury investigation into the operations of the sheriff’s office.
“My belief is that more information is better, and that whatever information is obtained, that reasonable people will reach reasonable conclusions,” Brewster said. “I think what they’ll learn ultimately is that this is a very good sheriff.”
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