A grand jury
issued a sealed indictment July 24 naming five people in its kickback
investigation of the Oklahoma Tax Commission, according to The
Oklahoman. The probe is linked to bribery and corruption allegations
involving commission employees and private trucking agents.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the indictment will be unsealed
when all defendants have been notified and arrangements are made
for their court appearances.
A court hearing
reportedly could take place as soon as Aug. 1.
former Tax Commission auditor Billy Bruce Baber became the first
person indicted in the investigation, which focused on the agency's
truck registration division. He was charged with making a death
threat to former trucking agent Ronnie E. Cantwell Jr. in a failed
attempt to keep him from turning over incrementing documents or
testifying about their "criminal activity."
law enforcement officials searched the offices of Tax Commission
administrators Stephen G. Smith and David Gene Nicholson and the
residence of agency auditor Leon Qualls Jr.
are investigating whether private trucking agents paid bribes
to Tax Commission employees to get cheaper tags. Agency officials
first turned up alleged wrongdoing in an internal probe and sought
assistance from the attorney general.
testified at Baber's bail hearing that a trucking company had
paid his firm $176,000 for its tags, but Baber reworked the mileage
on the bill so only $76,000 went to the state. Cantwell said the
remaining $100,000 was divided among himself, Baber, trucking
agent Dan Kiplinger and former Tax Commission auditor Brian Brantley.
resigned after refusing to answer the grand jury's questions.
Nicholson was the supervisor over Baber, Brantley and Qualls.