Twenty-four hours hadn’t elapsed after the filing deadline when a Tulsa County sheriff hopeful challenged the candidacies of three others in the super-sized field of 13 candidates. The next day a fourth candidate’s eligibility to run was challenged.
Welcome to life in the aftermath of the nearly 27-year reign of former Sheriff Stanley Glanz — the county’s longest-serving sheriff.
Glanz’s resignation in November after a grand jury investigation has prompted a special election to finish his seventh term. Ten Republicans, two Democrats and a Democrat who filed as an Independent have entered the fray to bridge the gap until the next four-year term begins January 2017.
The candidacies of John Fitzpatrick, Arthur Jackson, Henry Jones and Erich Richter have come under scrutiny. The peace officer certification status of Fitzpatrick, Arthur Jackson and Jones are up for debate after sheriff hopeful Jason Jackson filed to contest their candidacies. Voter registry or party affiliation filing issues hamper Arthur Jackson, Jones and Richter.
Those queries will be addressed at the Tulsa County Election Board in hearings scheduled to begin 9 a.m. Thursday.
But other questions have arisen about one candidate’s past that won’t be under examination at the Election Board.
Tulsa Jail records archived by the World show Richter was arrested twice in 2012. He was arrested in June that year on suspicion of false pretense over $500 or con game, and then again in December in connection with larceny from a house.
The World reached out to the arresting agencies — the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and Tulsa Police Department — and the District Attorney’s Office, none of which had any records on file.
Richter last week told the Tulsa World he had both cases expunged from his records.
“It was taken care of in the courts, and everything was dismissed at preliminary,” Richter said. “Just because somebody’s charged doesn’t mean somebody’s guilty.
“There is no need for me to comment. The record speaks for itself; I was never found guilty of anything.”
Richter, 46, also has questions involving his law enforcement history.
The Tulsa World filed open records requests for disciplinary records with the agencies for which candidates state they have worked or currently work.
Richter reportedly may have avoided discipline because he left the Payne County Sheriff’s Office before complaints could work their way through the system. He did reportedly face disciplinary measures at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
Richter was a deputy with Payne County for about a year from Aug. 1, 2009, to Sept. 13, 2010, according to the agency.
Capt. Kevin Woodward of the Payne County Sheriff’s Office said Richter didn’t have any discipline in his personnel file, but that might have changed had he not left so soon.
“He had numerous complaints, but he wasn’t here long enough for any of them to come to fruition” Woodward said.
Richter discounted that statement, saying “I’m very good at my job.”
“I had no complaints against me that I knew of when I left,” Richter said.
Prior to Payne County, Richter was employed by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office for two years, from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 28, 2007, according to records.
Meredith Baker, general counsel for the TCSO, said Richter received discipline but it’s not subject to release because the discipline didn’t rise to a certain level of severity as set out in state public records law. As such, Baker said she couldn’t comment on the nature of the complaints or discipline doled out.
State public records law states “any final disciplinary action resulting in loss of pay, suspension, demotion of position, or termination” is open public record.
Richter responded that there were a “couple of investigations” after complaints but that the leadership was trying to “intimidate” him and it didn’t work. He disagreed that he was disciplined and said he left on good terms. He called himself “an outstanding deputy” and accuses the World of “trying to dredge up stuff to sell your papers.”
“I think you’re focusing on a lot of peripheral stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the Sheriff’s Office,” Richter said.
The World’s record requests for discipline turned up two records that met open-record law requirements to be released — one a termination letter and the other a minor violation.
The only request that hasn’t been fulfilled is one to the Okmulgee Police Department to check the records of Brandon Hendrix, 42. Hendrix worked there a few years before his 13 years at the TCSO.
Bill Reaves, 66, was fired as a lieutenant at the TCSO in 1990. His termination letter from Glanz doesn’t provide a reason, but it states the decision “is being taken after much consideration and is taken in the interest of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department.”
Reaves previously has said he was fired for uncovering problems with Tulsa Jail operations.
The minor violation is from two decades ago at the Tulsa Police Department. Vic Regalado, 44, was docked a day of vacation time as a result of him losing a portable police radio in December 1994.
The punishment was handed down by former Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer.
Palmer also disciplined another candidate for sheriff — Luke Sherman. That punishment later was reversed, as well as the discipline of the other supervisor involved, according to the department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Because it was reversed, the discipline is no longer on Sherman’s record and didn’t show up in the World’s request.
Sherman is the son of Bill Sherman, faith and values writer for the Tulsa World, and his wife, Harrio.
In 2009, Palmer suspended Sherman for five days without pay for failure to supervise and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
The matter stemmed from a barbecue Sherman was in charge of that involved more than a dozen officers who were drinking alcohol. One officer totaled a patrol car after leaving the cookout and crashed into a power pole and then a gate.
Sherman last week told the World the city of Tulsa returned his lost time to him.
“That unfortunate event occurred under my leadership or under my watch, and as a leader you serve your people, and that means you serve them by promoting them when they do good things and taking responsibility when things go wrong,” Sherman said. “Although the actions of an officer affected me, I believe that leaders take responsibility for their troops. And that’s what I did.”