Federal Probe Returns TPD Indictments

Little Rock – Jane W. Duke, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; James E. Finch, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Oklahoma City Division; and Wayne D. Beaman, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Justice – Office of Inspector General, Dallas Field Office, announced today the indictment and arrest of one retired and four current Tulsa Police Department officers. Those arrested include Jeff M. Henderson, age 37, of Collinsville, Oklahoma; William A. Yelton, age 49, of Bixby, Oklahoma; Harold R. Wells, age 59, of Owasso, Oklahoma; Nick DeBruin, age 37, of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Earnest Bruce Bonham, age 52, of Claremore, Oklahoma. The arrests stem from two separate indictments in which the defendants are charged with a variety of drug trafficking, civil rights, and related offenses.

A sixty-one count indictment charges Henderson and Yelton with offenses dating back to May 2004. According to the indictment, which remained sealed until the defendants’ initial appearances today, Henderson and Yelton conspired with one another from May 2004 until the present to deprive Bobby Wayne Haley, Sr. of his civil rights. The indictment alleges that in May 2004, Henderson and Yelton persuaded Rochelle Martin to testify falsely in a federal court proceeding involving Haley.

The indictment further states that on April 6, 2007, Henderson contacted Martin and told her that he needed her to testify for him the following morning and Martin agreed. The next day, Henderson and Yelton picked up Martin and transported her to the U.S. Courthouse to provide testimony to United States Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary. While en route to the courthouse, Henderson and Yelton coached Martin as to the testimony she should give. The two officers instructed Martin to falsely testify that she had given Henderson information in May 2004 concerning drug trafficking activity by Haley at his home and business. Henderson then used this purported information to obtain a state search warrant for Haley’s property. That search warrant resulted in the discovery of drugs and Haley’s subsequent indictment and conviction. Martin has since admitted that she lied during the Haley hearing and that she did so at the request and instruction of Henderson and Yelton. Ultimately, Haley was convicted and sentenced to 264 months imprisonment. In May 2010, an affidavit of Martin was publicly filed in which she admitted to providing the false testimony against Haley. As a result, Haley was released from prison. In all, Haley served over 4 years in prison on this now-vacated sentence. Both Henderson and Yelton are also charged with conspiring to suborn the perjury of Martin.

Henderson is separately charged with 12 individual drug offenses, one of which is a conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. The conspiracy alleges that Henderson and Brandon Jay McFadden, a former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, conspired with one another and with other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, less than 500 grams of cocaine, and in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine from January 1, 2007 through October 2008.

Additional drug charges against Henderson include distribution and possession with intent to distribute various controlled substances during the time period of the conspiracy. Because Henderson took many of these actions while carrying his service firearm, he is charged with possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.

Henderson is also charged with violating the civil rights of individuals in 14 separate instances. These counts allege the deprivation of the individual victims’ rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and to receive due process of law before being deprived of property or liberty. Similarly, Yelton is separately charged with violating the civil rights of individuals in 3 instances. Henderson is charged in 5 separate civil rights conspiracies. Three of those conspiracies involved the theft of money from criminal suspects. One civil rights  conspiracy alleges that Henderson and other officers broke into the home of Jose Angel Gonzalez and hid a sawed-off shotgun inside an air vent; later came back with a warrant for the residence and found the gun. Gonzalez was subsequently charged with being a felon in possession of that sawed-off shotgun. The final civil rights conspiracy against Henderson involves a fabricated controlled drug buy by Ryan Logsdon from Larry and Larita Barnes. The fabricated drug buy was the basis of a federal prosecution against the Barnes that went to trial in April 2008. During that trial, Henderson, McFadden, and Logsdon all testified falsely under oath that Logsdon conducted a controlled buy of methamphetamine from the Barneses on May 8, 2007. Both Logsdon and McFadden have since confirmed that they lied under oath and that the controlled drug buy never happened.

The Barneses were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Their release from prison was effectuated last summer through filings made by Duke’s office. As a result of his false testimony in the Barnes case, Henderson is now charged with 10 separate counts of perjury and with conspiring with McFadden and Logsdon to commit perjury.

Henderson is also charged with 10 additional counts of perjury related to his false testimony in a federal prosecution of Ronald Crawford. In a suppression hearing conducted in that case, Henderson testified extensively as to surveillance of Ronald Crawford that Henderson allegedly conducted on January 5-6, 2009 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This testimony was false in that Ronald Crawford was not in Tulsa, Oklahoma on those dates.

Two charges in the indictment allege that Henderson and Yelton conspired to commit witness intimidation. These counts relate to attempts by Henderson and Yelton to prevent Brandon McFadden and Rochelle Martin from providing authorities and/or the grand jury with information about Henderson’s illegal activities. In the matter concerning McFadden, it is alleged that Henderson and Yelton took McFadden to a secluded location and that Yelton brandished a gun and while racking it made comments to the effect that McFadden needed to go back to Lubbock, Texas and keep his mouth shut. Concerning the conspiracy to intimidate Rochelle Martin, it is alleged that Henderson and Yelton conspired to prevent Martin from providing truthful information to the grand jury investigating Henderson.

The final count alleges that Henderson, aided and abetted by others, attempted to bribe Brandon McFadden with free legal representation with the intent to prevent McFadden’s cooperation in the corruption investigation. While committing these acts, Henderson knew he was a target of the investigation and he knew that McFadden had already been indicted.

In a second indictment, former TPD officer Harold Wells and current TPD officers Nick DeBruin and Earnest Bruce Bonham are charged with a drug conspiracy and a civil rights conspiracy stemming from allegations that these officers and others planted drug evidence on suspects they arrested. Each is also charged with possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense. These three officers are also charged in a conspiracy to steal government funds and theft of government funds. DeBruin is separately charged with depriving Cody Weavel of his civil rights by depriving Weavel of property without due process of law. Wells is charged in a civil rights conspiracy involving the theft of money from Hugo Gutierrez during the execution of a search warrant in January 2008. The indictment lists co-conspirators in the Gutierrez matter as James K. Gray, a former TPD officer; Callison Kaiser, a former TPD officer and United States Secret Service agent; and Eric Hill, a current TPD officer. Wells is also charged in a substantive civil rights deprivation count involving Gutierrez; with distribution of methamphetamine; use of a telephone in connection with a drug trafficking offense; and in a separate drug conspiracy alleging that Wells conspired with Gray to distribute methamphetamine.

“When any law enforcement officer betrays the oath to protect; serve; and uphold the law, he tarnishes the badge of all law enforcement, violates the trust of the people and therefore should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the very laws he has broken,” said Finch.

This case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice – Office of Inspector General. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas was appointed by the Department of Justice to handle this matter upon the recusal of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The case is being prosecuted by United States Attorney Jane Duke, Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Harris, and Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Harris. An indictment is only an allegation of wrongdoing based on probable cause. A defendant is presumed innocent until such time as he or she is adjudged guilty either by plea or jury verdict.