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Police Officer's Pardon Raises Questions
A Governor’s Pardon is raising questions about transparency in the state’s pardon and parole process. One pardon went essentially unnoticed until it was used as a reason why a police officer’s criminal record should be wiped clean.
Oklahoma City Police Sergeant John Blumenthal pleaded guilty to assault and battery in 2008. He admitted in court documents that he kicked a homeless man in the face. Investigators say the man was already handcuffed when Blumenthal used excessive force. Three years later, Blumenthal sought a pardon for his crime. He received the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board, as well as the Governor.
However, Fox 25 has learned that no one from the board or the governor’s office notified the Oklahoma County District Attorney or Police Chief Bill Citty when considering the pardon. The board made its decision based on information presented by Blumenthal and his defense attorney. District Attorney David Prater says the information given to the governor was not entirely true.
Blumenthal’s paperwork describes threats made by the District Attorney to force a guilty plea in his case. Prater says he offered a deal based on the circumstances of the case and did tell Blumenthal if he didn’t want the deal he would take the case to a jury trial. Blumenthal told the Pardon and Parole Board, “my foot made contact with the cheek of the subject accidentally.” A statement that is far different from the handwritten one in his court paperwork that reads, “I willfully and knowingly kicked Jesse Haney in the head.”
Now Blumenthal is using the pardon in his argument to get his record expunged, a legal move that would keep the public from seeing his criminal record. Though attorneys say the fact a pardon exists doesn’t guarantee an expungement.
“Many times the governor will give a pardon because of the good work a person's done, what they've done for the community,” said Ed Blau a former prosecutor and current defense attorney, “That doesn't necessarily mean that makes them entitled for full expungement, that's not what the statute says
The district attorney’s office is fighting the expungement saying the public has a right to know a police officer’s past.
The Governor’s office says she agreed to the pardon based on the information she received and did not feel the information was lacking. The office says it relies on active participation from people opposed to pardon and paroles to take part in the public hearings. However, the office says recent changes now require the Board to take extra steps to make sure district attorneys are notified when criminal defendants appear before the board. The board is also working to make its public documents easier to read and search. In the past, multiple databases had to be searched to find all the people being considered by the board.
Blumenthal’s attorney declined to do a recorded interview for this story. However the attorney says an internal review board, CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) and an arbitrator all ruled Blumenthal did nothing wrong. That arbitration hearing reinstated Blumenthal to the police department after hearing testimony from both the district attorney and police chief.
Posted: Thursday, November 1 2012, 04:31 AM CDT
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
OU student accused of illegal grade changes
May 18, 2013 16:55 GMT
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Authorities have charged a University of Oklahoma student with computer-related crimes for allegedly changing his grades.
Prosecutors on Thursday charged 24-year-old Roja Osman Hamad with five counts of computer fraud or unlawful use of a computer or system.
The Norman Transcript reports (http://is.gd/erahCW ) Hamad is accused of changing the passwords of six OU faculty members without their permission. Investigators say Hamad had access to the system through his campus job.
After changing the passwords, Hamad allegedly had access to the faculty accounts and then altered his grades.
Once the passwords were changed, the faculty members couldn't access the OU computer system.
It was unclear whether Hamad had a lawyer. Hamad's bail was set at $50,000. He wasn't listed on the Cleveland County Jail roster on Saturday.
Information from: The Norman Transcript, http://www.normantranscript.com
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