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Sheriff, police chief charged with violating Okla. meetings law

By The Associated Press

OKMULGEE, Okla. — Eight officials in Okmulgee County have been charged with a total of 38 misdemeanor counts of violating the state's Open Meetings Act.

The law requires meetings of state and local boards and commissions to be open to the public and for public notice to be given about those meetings.

Those charged Sept. 23 in Muskogee County District Court include Sheriff Eddie Rice, Okmulgee city Police Chief Joe Prentice, County Commissioner James Connors and Criminal Trust Authority members Richard Larney, Charles Rogers, Bill Holcomb, Leslie Johnston and Billy Green.

All but Green are charged with taking an unauthorized vote in executive session, failure to give notice of action actually taken, failure to record each member's vote and two counts of failure to give notice of action taken.

Green is charged with failing to record each member's vote and two counts of failure to give notice of action taken.

Court documents indicate the alleged violations occurred between Dec. 7, 2006, and Feb. 1, 2007.

Larry Moore, the Muskogee County district attorney, is prosecuting the case and did not return messages from the Tulsa World seeking comment. Muskogee County is adjacent to Okmulgee County in eastern Oklahoma.

Court records do not indicate when those charged must return to court. The Okmulgee County Sheriff's office said it did not know what the bail amount for each defendant was.

A violation of the open-meeting law could result in a fine of up to $500 and up to one year in jail.

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