9/25/2009Oklahoma Sheriff Convicted of Stealing Cash from Motorists
Federal judge sends Oklahoma sheriff and deputy to jail for two years for pulling over and stealing from drivers.
An Oklahoma sheriff and his deputy were sentenced to two years and three months in jail on Tuesday for the crime of stopping and searching motorists so that they could steal their cash. An undercover federal sting operation caught McIntosh County Sheriff Terry Alan Jones, 36, and Under-sheriff Mykol Travis Brookshire, 38, red-handed. The pair were forced to resign their positions in May and plead guilty to Conspiracy Under Color of Law to Interfere with Interstate Commerce.
"The court imposed the maximum permissible federal prison term, consistent with advisory federal sentencing guidelines," United States Attorney Sheldon J. Sperling explained in a statement. "These sentences will not be subject to parole."
The sheriff's office conspiracy came to light after Marco Delgado-Hernandez was stopped on Interstate 40 on November 5, 2007. Brookshire searched the man's vehicle and found $7000 in cash. He then seized this money and allowed Delgado-Hernandez to go. The next day, the district attorney's office refused to press any charges or authorize the monetary confiscation. Assistant District Attorney Scott Biggs specifically ordered the money returned.
Almost one year later, Delgado-Hernandez, who had not received his money back, began making phone calls. Sheriff Jones told him that it would take "several weeks" to process the paperwork. The district attorney ordered it returned immediately. This kicked off cooperation between state and federal officials to look into the matter.
On May 21, 2009 McIntosh County Sheriff's Deputy Tonya French pulled over a vehicle containing what she thought was an ordinary motorist. Brookshire was quickly dispatched to the scene to search the car. Brookshire found six bundles in the car, each of which contained $5000 in cash. Brookshire insisted that the driver sign a form releasing custody of the money to the county, and threatened to arrest him if he did not comply. The man signed. Brookshire took one bundle for himself and then reported five bundles of currency to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The driver in this case was an undercover agent working a sting operation in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DEA. Federal agents obtained a search warrant and found the "missing" bundle of money from the traffic stop had been split between Jones and Brookshire. A total of $2600 was hidden in an air duct in Brookshire's house while $2400 was found in the home of Sheriff Jones.