NEWS

McAlexander pleads guilty to obstructing investigation

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
McAlexander pleads guilty to obstructing investigation

Sentencing has been deferred until next year for the former Pawhuska city manager who interfered with last summer’s police investigation of an alcohol-related traffic accident involving another local official.

During an appearance in Osage County

District Court last Thursday, Paul McAlexander waived his right to a trial and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer. He was fined $350 and placed on unsupervised probation until Oct. 29, 2015.

The one-year deferred sentence was ordered by Rogers County Special Judge Terrell Crosson, who was assigned to the case following the recusal of the three Osage County District Court judges.

McAlexander was charged in connection with his actions following a July 3 traffic accident involving Pawhuska City Attorney Jesse Worten III.

McAlexander arrived on the scene of the one-vehicle, non-injury mishap — at which the city attorney reportedly already had admitted to police that he was intoxicated — and advised investigating officers to refrain from arresting the city attorney. The city manager told officers to keep Worten at the police station until he could be picked up by his wife, former Pawhuska City Councilwoman Cathy Worten.

Within a week, the circulation of a Pawhuska Police Department video of the incident on social media resulted in a strong public backlash to McAlexander’s handling of the situation. Worten, who eventually received a municipal court citation for drunken driving, was placed on a two-month medical leave as city attorney.

After listening to citizens’ grievances and holding executive sessions on the matter, the Pawhuska City Council voted for McAlexander to serve a two-week suspension without pay.

A subsequent probe by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation resulted in filing of the misdemeanor obstruction charge against the 67-year-old city manager. On Aug. 28, the City Council announced that McAlexander was retiring from the city management position, which he had held since 2004.

Cathy Worten did not attend any of the council meetings at which the incident was discussed. She later submitted her resignation from the council, which was accepted Aug. 4.

Jesse Worten pleaded no contest to the drunken driving charge on Sept. 24. Noting Worten’s previous clean driving record and the fact that he had spent July and August in a rehabilitation facility, Municipal Judge John Briggs ordered sentencing in the case deferred for six months.

Worten resigned as city attorney in early October.