The Tulsa World by Jarrel Wade and Omer Gillham - August 9, 2011
A key witness testified Monday about threats and coercion allegedly made or used by police officers in a conspiracy that included having an informant buy and sell drugs for them. Ryan Logsdon, 38, a convicted felon, began the second week of the prosecution's case in the police corruption trial for Tulsa Police Officers Jeff Henderson, 38, and Bill Yelton, 50. The veteran officers were indicted under seal July 19, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. Logsdon testified that he bought and sold drugs for police officers under threat of going to prison and losing custody of his child. He accused former ATF Agent Brandon McFadden of participating with Henderson in distributing methamphetamine. McFadden has pleaded guilty in the corruption probe and is cooperating with prosecutors. Logsdon said his criminal relationship with Henderson began shortly after Jan. 23, 2007, when Henderson, McFadden and Officer Frank Khalil - who has not been charged - served a search warrant at his Turley home. Logsdon testified that Henderson planted marijuana at Logsdon's home during the search to gain leverage over him. According to Logsdon's testimony, the officers didn't find any drugs after several hours of searching. When they searched a detached garage, Henderson came out with two bags of marijuana, claiming that he had found them in a tool box, Logsdon said. "You brought that with you," Logsdon said he told Henderson. In an effort to prove Henderson wrong and get his wife and child out of the picture, Logsdon showed Henderson his methamphetamine and cash hiding place, he said. Henderson then pocketed the marijuana and began to question Logsdon about where he got his methamphetamine, Logsdon testified. A relationship based on illicit drug deals and turning in other drug dealers was formed between himself, Henderson and McFadden, he said. Logsdon said he was told that if he didn't cooperate, he would go to prison and the state would take custody of his young son. "They then had me call my supplier, and I had him set up that night," Logsdon said. During questioning, Logsdon testified that he turned in as many as 20 drug suppliers during his partnership with Henderson and McFadden and later began buying drugs from Henderson. Logsdon would then sell those drugs for a profit, he testified.
On cross-examination from Henderson's attorney, Robert Wyatt IV, Logsdon was questioned about discrepancies in his accounts of the event. Many of the accounts were given under oath, including during a previous federal trial. Wyatt pointed out that in a previous statement, Logsdon had identified McFadden as the person claiming to have found marijuana in his home rather than Henderson. Wyatt also pointed out that Logsdon had previously said McFadden, not Henderson, had threatened to have his child taken away. "It was Henderson and McFadden," Logsdon said. "I forgot to mention Henderson (earlier), but he did it with McFadden." Logsdon also testified in several federal cases as an informant against drug suppliers but said in court Monday that he was told by Henderson and McFadden to lie in the case of Larry Wayne Barnes Sr. and his daughter, Larita Annette Barnes. "They'd pick me up late at night and told me what to say" in trial testimony, he said. "They coached me," Logsdon said. "I did what they told me to do." On one occasion, Logsdon said, Henderson drove to Logsdon's house in Turley and gave him 3 ounces of methamphetamine, saying "we got this from the Barneses." "He tosses me the 3 ounces of meth and says I will probably have to testify" in the Barneses' case, Logsdon testified. "I said, 'No, I won't testify,' and I threw the meth back at him. Jeff said, 'You will lose your kid if you don't.' " McFadden and Logsdon say the Barneses' drug buy was fabricated and never occurred. Logsdon said he, McFadden and Henderson perjured themselves when they testified that a drug buy had occurred at the Barneses' home. While Logsdon's testimony helped a jury convict the Barneses in 2008, his story included the presence of Kelie Barnes and her children, prosecutors said.
Kelie Barnes, 32, testified that she was at work and that her children were in school on the day of the alleged drug buy at her father's house. She testified that she clocked into work at 8:15 a.m. and stayed there all day. Barnes' former manager, Ashley Balocca, was called to the stand and corroborated Kelie Barnes' statements. The drug buy was alleged to have taken place during work hours. Kelie Barnes also said all four of her children were either in day care or school that day. The prosecution also called James Fue, 32, to testify about an alleged incident in 2005 when he claims Henderson and Officer Sean Larkin - who also has not been charged - intimidated him so that he would get into a car and then forced him to provide information about drug dealers in his neighborhood. Larkin, known as "Sticks," is alleged to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the Henderson and Yelton case. Fue, who is serving a prison sentence for drug possession, said he was taken late at night to a gun range where Henderson put a gun to his head in an attempt to get information on how his neighborhood's drug deals worked.
"They're the police," Fue said when questioned on why he got into the car with them. "You got to kind of do what they say." Fue said he didn't want to provide information on his neighborhood and gave bogus information until Henderson got angry and pressed his gun to Fue's head. "We're tired of playing games with you," he testified that Henderson said. Fue said he was willing to give them any information they wanted at that point to get out of the situation. A prosecutor then asked Fue whether he was promised anything in exchange for testifying, and he was adamant that testifying would only make things worse for him. Fue said he is worried about getting hassled by other inmates at jail and for his son's mother, who may be threatened because of his testimony. "They are the police. It's something you have to deal with in my neighborhood," he said. "After all this is said and done, to live in north Tulsa after this ... will be hell, like they say in the newspaper. The police are going to retaliate. There's nothing for me to gain here." The police corruption trial, which began a week ago, is expected to last three to five weeks. Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367, firstname.lastname@example.org - Omer Gillham 918-581-8301, email@example.com