Often both comedic and pathetic in some parts of Oklahoma, politics is a full-contact criminal enterprise. Jason McMahan, brother of Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan is not currently charged with any crime, but Gary Jones says, “I don’t want anyone out there to misunderstand; I firmly believe that Jason McMahan stole my trailer. I was told by the detective, assistant district attorney and the district attorney that they were convinced that he stole it using his pick-up truck.”
Apparently in Tecumseh, Oklahoma’s connected criminals live free of charge unless the crime catches the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This episode is merely grand theft auto. The “Keystone Cops” element is that one person has been charged with possession of stolen property, but no one was charged with stealing it. For that Oklahomans can thank a judge and a district attorney, who was a contributor to Jeff McMahan’s campaigns.
Picture of the suspect pick-up owned by Jason McMahan taken the day after the stolen trailer was discovered on McMahan’s co-workers property.
Jeff McMahan is currently under examination by a federal grand jury for campaign irregularities tied to Gene Stipe, Mike Mass and Steve Phipps – first publicly exposed by Tulsa Today (click here for the original story). Theft of the trailer which was decorated at the time as a “covered wagon” billboard during Jones’ bid to replace McMahan in the auditors office was also first published by Tulsa Today (click here for that original story and the follow-up story).
September 16, 2006 Tecumseh police officer Clint Hill took the report of a larceny of the twenty-four foot goose neck trailer Jones had leased for his campaign. At the time of the theft, the trailer was secured with a cable and lock behind Branson McKiddy Realtors in Tecumseh. On September 22, Tecumseh resident David Jett called police to report that he had seen the decorated campaign trailer sometime between midnight and 2 am on the night it was taken. Jett reported that a red extended-cab pick-up truck was pulling the trailer through town.
November 1, Pottawatomie County Deputy Sheriff Dan McClure called Tecumseh Detective Lt. Kidney and, after comparing notes, the two believed they had located the missing trailer on land owned by Justin Lewis. Investigating, the two officers obtained the vehicle identification number (VIN), but a check of that number showed a trailer owned by the City of Tecumseh. David Johnson, Tecumseh City Manager, (a former employee of and major contributor to Jeff McMahan) told officers that the city’s trailer was at the City Barn, but the VIN plate had been removed.
Deputy McClure and Lt. Kidney returned to the trailer and began to impound it when they discovered the covered wagon frame also belonging to Jones approximately 25 yards from the trailer. The trailer had been repainted. While on the scene, Justin Lewis arrived and, according to official documents, admitted he let “someone” park the trailer there. He said he had seen officers in the field so he went to his mother’s house to call the “guy that put the trailer there” asking that person to come to Lewis’ property to talk to the officers.
Asked if he was a city employee Lewis only said, “You’re good you will figure it out.” Lewis then told Lt. Kidney he could not tell then who the other person was because of “it being a political mess.” When asked what that meant, Lewis said, “You know what I mean.”
Lewis was not arrested and remained at his property when the officers departed with the trailer. Lt. Kidney returned shortly, asking Lewis, “Was it Jason McMahan?”
Lewis said, “You’re good.” Lt. Kidney then asked if Jason McMahan was the one who brought the trailer to his house. Lewis said he, “could not” tell him.
November 3, Lt. Kidney contacted Jason McMahan. At Tecumseh Police Headquarters, McMahan was advised of his Miranda Rights and made the following statements: 1.) McMahan knew Gary Jones had a trailer stolen, but did not know anything about the trailer recovered from Justin Lewis’ field, 2.) McMahan was at work until 12:30 am the night the trailer was stolen, and 3.) McMahan owns a red extended cab pick-up with a gooseneck hook-up, which is required for a pickup to pull the trailer.
The same day, Justin Lewis gave the following written statement after being advised of his Miranda Rights:
“I, Justin Lewis Had a trailer Recovered from my property at 29387 Kimes Ave Macomb OK. Pott County on Nov 2, 2006 at time of Recovery I leared it had Been stolen I Received the Trailer from parties who cant be named at this time and had no prier Knowledge it was stolen until time of Recovery” (sic)
On February 1, 2007 Justin Lewis was interviewed by Deputy Jim Patten of the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and after being advised of his rights made the following admissions: 1.) When asked what knowledge he had of the trailer he said, “I knew the trailer was on my property,” 2.) When asked if he knew the trailer was stolen he said, “Probably,” 3.) When advised it would be best if he was honest, he said, “You wouldn’t understand, I just can’t say.” Then he volunteered, “I don’t care what happens I’m not saying anything, I’ll just take whatever happens to me.”
Lewis was not taken into custody until a warrant was issued in April of 2007 charging that he knowingly concealed stolen property – a felony.
Jones says, “Anyone can see from official statements that Jason McMahan stole my trailer.”
The night of the theft both Jason McMahan and Justin Lewis were City of Tecumseh Water Department employees, worked out of the City Barn and worked together on the night shift until 12:30 am. The photographs of the red pick-up truck accompanying this story were taken by Lt. Kidney of the “suspect vehicle” which is Jason McMahan’s truck.
If law enforcement or the court system had been timely in the release of this information, it could have made a difference in the election contest between Jason’s brother Jeff McMahan and Gary Jones.
After indicating to Jones that Lewis would be pressured to name the thief or face trail, the Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smotherman and judge allowed Lewis in late December to enter a blind plea and gather a deferred sentence which means he will not even have a permanent blemish on his record if he stays out of other legal trouble during the time period.
“Basically they swept it under the carpet,” Jones said. “They hid the facts to protect Jeff McMahan’s election, never charged Jason McMahan and let his accomplice skate the system. There is no justice in any of this,” Jones added.
The case had been turned over to the Pottawatomie County District Attorney the day after the trailer had been discovered because Tecumseh Detective Lt. Kidney told Jones, “I felt I had a conflict of interest because it appeared the crime was committed by two city employees and my brother is married to Jeff McMahan’s sister.”
Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smotherman played in Jeff McMahan’s fundraising golf tournament at least three times. He did offer to recuse himself, but not until after Jones asked him about his donations to McMahan and just days before the plea deal was accepted.
Jones said Lewis’ attorney is also a former employee of Jeff McMahan and a campaign contributor.
Jones said, “If politics had been played cleanly in Oklahoma, I would have more than likely won the 2002 election contest with Jeff McMahan – it was that close and the $80,000 to $100,000 of illegal campaign donations he got made the difference. In the last race  all these stories Tulsa Today
published the more mainstream media would not cover because they claimed it was political. Most feel that if those stories or this one had come out before the election– yes I would have won that race as well.”
Jones was later elected Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
When asked about being afraid of being sued for making accusations Jones replied “The best defensive against slander is the truth. All I have ever wanted is for the truth to be known. If it means that I am sued or that I have to sue to get my day in court so be it. The public deserves the truth.“
“How many times do Oklahomans have to catch Jeff McMahan lying? He lied about his relationship with Steve Phipps, he lied about his relationship with Gene Stipe, and he lied about money and vacations and gifts received while he has held the office of Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector. Under normal circumstances he would have been prosecuted and thrown out of office a long time ago,” Jones said.
Jones added, “The funny thing is that the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector swears an oath to protect Oklahoma taxpayers.”