Tulsa County officials are investigating whether a jail inmate worker gained unauthorized access into the Sheriff’s Office property room.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Monday that while he doesn’t know the full extent of the breach, he has asked the sheriff’s office for an account of what happened.
“I would hope (we get the report) sooner rather than later,” Kunzweiler said. “When you’re talking about a breach of the property room, it would be natural to want to make sure the integrity of the property room … that everything is stored in a secure area.”
Kunzweiler stopped short of confirming what happened inside the overflow property room, but a source told The Frontier that at least one trustee — a jail inmate worker — took the drug “K2,” or “spice,” from the room.
“K2,” popularly referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” can affect users to varying degrees due to the unregulated nature of its creation. While commonly lumped into the same category as marijuana, the drug’s effects are said to be more like methamphetamine.
A source told The Frontier that the K2 is from a high-profile convenience store raid last year in which the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and Tulsa Police Department arrested 19 people. The case resulted in criminal charges for at least 11 defendants, though some of the cases were transferred to federal court, records show.
The series of raids took place across Tulsa on a sunny day last October. Authorities seized nearly $700,000 from 13 convenience stores, as well as more than 300 pounds of K2. They also seized several gambling machines and beer in the raid. Because many of the convenience stores involved did not have beer licenses, investigators said, they would trade K2 for alcohol stolen from other locations.
TCSO Public Information Officer Justin Green confirmed the property room breach last week.
“There have been steps taken to ensure that that type of breach won’t happen again,” Green said. “We are working with the DA to make sure the breach will not affect any of our current cases or cases the DA has.”
“All I know is we’ve gotten questions from the DA and we’re trying to answer them,” Sheriff Stanley Glanz said.
The property room for the Sheriff’s Office is in the Faulkner Building, 303 W. First St., and is monitored, Green said. The property room overflow area is in the basement of the building.
“There are some functions that inmate workers perform at the Faulkner Building,” Green said.
Property rooms are used to store evidence for trial.
A breach of the evidence room could potentially affect the reliability of evidence presented at trial. Kunzweiler said the question from a prosecutor’s perspective is “how many cases could have been impacted?”
“It’s my quick understanding is that only one case was affected,” he said. “It’s a matter that’s under investigation, and we’ll have to let that process work its way out.”
Kunzweiler said he could not yet discuss whether the inmate workers would face charges for allegedly breaking into the evidence room. The sheriff’s office has not said if any of its staff members would face punishment for the breach.
TCSO has been in upheaval since April, when Reserve Deputy Robert Bates shot and killed an unarmed man during a drug sting.
Bates has said he intended to use his Taser on Eric Harris but instead pulled his gun and fatally shot him.
Subsequent investigations into the Sheriff’s Office led to several forced resignations and firings of high-ranking department members.
A county grand jury and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI reportedly is examining the department’s operations.
Sheriff Stanley Glanz has said repeatedly that he has no intention of resigning.