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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Acquitted Officer in Corruption Case Retires

Acquitted TPD officer in corruption case retires, applies for his pension
The Tulsa World by Jarrel Wade  -  May 16, 2012

Tulsa Police Officer Bill Yelton, who was acquitted in August of charges alleging that he violated suspects' civil rights, is requesting approval to receive his pension from a state organization Wednesday following his retirement earlier this month, records show. The Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement Board meeting agenda shows that Yelton applied to begin receiving his pension June 1, and Tulsa Police Department officials confirmed that his retirement began May 7. Yelton and six other law enforcement officers were charged in a federal case after a grand jury probe began in 2008. Three Tulsa police officers and one federal agent were convicted on various charges related to civil rights violations and drug conspiracy. Three police officers - Yelton, Nick DeBruin and Bruce Bonham - were acquitted of civil-rights violations. Bonham was charged with five counts, and DeBruin was charged with six counts related to theft of U.S. funds, civil rights violations, drug possession and possession of firearms. The Police Department fired DeBruin and Bonham on Jan. 20 for conduct unbecoming an officer and failing in their duty to be truthful and obedient. Yelton was acquitted Aug. 24 on all counts: four allegations were related to civil-rights violations; two were related to witness-tampering; and one was related to perjury. Yelton, who was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in April 1985, was held without bail from July 23, 2010, until after his acquittal. Yelton was suspended with pay after his acquittal pending an Internal Affairs investigation. A Police Department spokesman said Tuesday that Yelton's disciplinary record is not available under the Oklahoma Open Records Act because he is no longer an employee. During Yelton's trial in August, testimony for the prosecution came from two key informants, Rochelle Martin and Ryan Logsdon, who said they were not the informants Yelton and co-defendant Jeff Henderson said they used to gain search warrants. Martin and Logsdon testified that they had never been to several alleged drug dealers' residences, contrary to what the two officers documented. Yelton testified in his own defense during the trial, which included defense testimony from other officers. Yelton said he never threatened a federal agent with a gun or asked an inmate to assault another inmate who was a government witness, rebutting the claims of other trial witnesses. The federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent began as early as 2008 and resulted in charges against six current or former Tulsa police officers and the federal agent, as well as accusations of criminal behavior against five officers who were never indicted. At least 44 people have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil-rights violations or potential problems with their cases. Additionally, lawsuits against the city and individual police officers as a result of the police corruption investigation began being filed as early as April 2010. To date, at least 11 have been filed.  Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367

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