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Judge Cheats Child Protectors
January 23, 2011 permalink
An Oklahoma judge has been arrested for bilking the state of $22,000 in a foster/adoption scam. The judge placed twins with the sister of her bailiff as adopted children, without state reimbursement. But the paper record showed the judge herself as the foster mother, so she got foster payments for caring for the twins. From the looks of the article, this is a high-living judge who erased a million dollars in debt in a recent bankruptcy. The mother of the twins is named in other sources as Capri Whitehead.
Oklahoma County district judge charged with fraud, perjury
Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure secretly gave adopted twins to bailiff's sister, kept state funds intended for their care, prosecutors allege.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure was accused in a felony fraud charge Friday of collecting state funds to care for twins that she secretly gave to her bailiff's sister.
Bass-LeSure, 43, and her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, cheated the state out of public funds for three years, prosecutors allege.
The judge faces 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim and two counts of perjury. Her husband faces two counts of making a fraudulent claim and two counts of perjury. She said Friday at the courthouse the accusations are not true.
Prosecutors allege the judge and her husband contracted with the state to become foster parents of a twin boy and girl in January 2008. They adopted the children in May. The children are now 3.
Prosecutors allege the children actually have been with the sister of the judge's bailiff since January 2008. The bailiff, Lania Davis, and her sister, identified only as R.E., have not been charged.
The judge has been paid more than $22,000 in public funds already for caring for the children, prosecutors allege. Monthly subsidies continue until the children's 19th birthdays.
Some of the foster care payments may have been passed on to the bailiff's sister, records show.
But the judge used adoption payments last year to make purchases in Texas and Maryland and “at spas, nail salons and casinos,” the district attorney's chief investigator reported in an affidavit attached to the charge.
The judge is accused in the charge of taking repeated actions to suppress the truth about who was really caring for the children. The judge and her husband are accused of deceiving DHS and court officials “through trick, false appearances and/or other unfair acts.”
Bass-LeSure first was elected as a district judge 12 years ago and spent most of her time handling criminal cases. She decided to move to probate, guardianship and adoption cases last year after she stepped down from a high-profile murder case against a pharmacist.
She stepped down from overseeing the murder trial after prosecutors complained of misconduct. She began her new probate docket this month and was hearing a case Friday afternoon after she was charged. The judge and her husband are being allowed to turn themselves in. She left the courthouse Friday, escorted by a sheriff's deputy away from the media.
She can continue to serve as a judge while the charge is pending unless the Court on the Judiciary takes action against her, officials told The Oklahoman. She is likely to be reassigned to handle civil cases.
The children were put into DHS custody because their mother tested positive for illegal drugs at the time of their births. The mother said R.E., who was then a DHS worker, contacted her a month later to tell her Tammy Bass-LeSure wanted to adopt the children “and could offer her children a better life,” the district attorney's investigator wrote.
Oklahoma County prosecutors learned of the alleged deception after R.E. became a suspect last September in an arson case, according to the court records. A fire investigator reported “this situation involving these children is common knowledge among people who know Judge LeSure in the community.”
The judge and her husband live in Oklahoma City and have had money problems. They filed for bankruptcy in June 2009, reporting debts of more than $1 million, records show. They acted after banks foreclosed on six modest Oklahoma County houses they owned. The judge gets more than $120,000 a year in state pay.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater signed the charge.
Addendum: Back to Work! The services of a judge cannot be lost for the mere impropriety of embezzling public funds.
Accused Oklahoma County judge back at work
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, accused of fraud in a child-care case, was going to take an extended leave of absence. She returned to the courthouse Thursday morning instead.
A judge accused of fraud is back at work.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, was going to take an extended leave of absence. She returned to the courthouse Thursday morning instead.
“I'm doing what the citizens elected me to do, and I will continue to do so. I will continue to fight to clear my name and to work hard,” she said from her desk in her chambers.
She declined to discuss her defense, saying she was prohibited by canons that control judicial conduct.
The judge is accused in the fraud case of secretly giving away twins placed in her care. She is accused of giving the children to her bailiff's sister, Ravonda Latrice Edwards, of Oklahoma City.
The judge also is accused of misusing some of the state funds paid to her for the care of the boy and girl. Prosecutors allege she spent some of the money at nail salons, spas and casinos.
She was charged Jan. 21 with 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
Her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, was charged with two counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
The judge in January began handling probate, guardianship and adoption cases. She will continue to handle probate and guardianship cases but will no longer oversee adoption cases. The judge spent the previous 12 years on criminal cases.
Probate cases involve settling a person's affairs after death. In most cases, there are no issues in dispute.
The judge took off last week at the request of Oklahoma County's presiding judge. She told others Jan. 27 she was extending her paid leave.
Only the state Court on the Judiciary can suspend or remove an elected judge from office.
Edwards, 41, faces three unrelated felony charges accusing her of violence against a former girlfriend. The latest charge, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, was filed Monday. Prosecutors allege Edwards stole the ex-girlfriend's car Oct. 6 and crashed it twice into a nearby house.
The children, now 3, are in Department of Human Services custody.
Addendum: The judge resigns.
Okla. judge accused of fraud announces resignation
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma County judge facing felony counts of fraud, perjury and conspiracy said Friday she will resign on March 1, a day before she is scheduled to be formally arraigned on the charges.
District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure submitted a one-paragraph letter to Gov. Mary Fallin announcing her resignation and expressing gratitude to Oklahoma County residents "for allowing me to serve my 13 years."
Bass-LeSure is accused of claiming payments for two foster children who prosecutors allege did not live with her. Last month, Bass-LeSure and two co-defendants — her husband, Karlos LeSure, and Ravonda Edwards, the sister of Bass-LeSure's bailiff — waived their right to a preliminary hearing on the charges and agreed to appear before Garfield County District Judge Paul Woodward on March 2 to enter pleas. All have denied wrongdoing.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on Bass-LeSure's resignation from the bench. Her attorney, Richard Anderson, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Anderson has said he is involved in ongoing negotiations with the district attorney's office about how to resolve the case.
The judge and her co-defendants agreed to waive their preliminary hearing following three days of testimony in which day care workers and other prosecution witnesses testified that Edwards consistently dropped the children off and picked them up from day care centers, claimed to be their foster mother and referred to them as "her kids."
An affidavit says Bass-LeSure received more than $19,000 in foster care reimbursement payments over two years, as well as adoption subsidies amounting to more than $3,000. It also says the adoption petition filed by the LeSures claims the children — a boy and a girl who are twins — had lived at their home in Forrest Park from January 2008, when the children were infants, through the filing of the petition in May 2010.
Prosecutors allege the twins actually lived with Edwards. Defense attorneys have denied that the children's adoption was a sham and that the LeSure's merely pocketed the money.
Leasing agents testified that they saw the children and evidence that the children were living with Edwards after she moved into apartments they leased to her. They also testified that Edwards and the children were evicted at least twice for not paying rent and that a variety of items, including children's toys and clothes, were left behind.
Source: New England Cable News