Fisher declines filing charges

Robert Smith

District Attorney Mike Fisher said he has decided not to file criminal charges in connection with a state audit of the Country Corner Fire District. The fire district is headquartered west of Sperry, in southern Osage County.

The office of the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector on Feb. 8 published on its website a report based on an audit of Country Corner finances between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017. The audit report provided details regarding a number of errors committed by the fire district’s leadership.

Following the release of the audit, Fisher drafted several questions he wanted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to address. Fisher said the OSBI has completed an investigation into the Country Corner Fire District. Based on that review, Fisher has determined there is no basis for criminal charges.

Fisher outlined his conclusions in a letter to Skiatook lawyer Joel Barnaby, who has been hired to represent the Country Corner Fire District.

“The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation into the Country Corner Fire District and based upon that investigation this office will not be filing charges pertaining to the findings contained within the audit conducted in 2018 by the State Auditor’s Office,” Fisher wrote to Barnaby. “While I have concerns as to the policies and procedures used by the District during the period addressed in the audit, there is neither evidence suggesting criminal intent nor evidence that any specific individuals acted with criminal culpability.”

Fisher emphasized in a conversation with the Journal-Capital that even if criminal behavior had been found to have occurred, it would still be necessary to specifically identify a person or persons thought to be responsible. The OSBI’s investigation did not turn up information that would support a criminal accusation against any specific person, he said.

Fisher told the Journal-Capital that he had concerns about negligent behavior by past Country Corner board members, but did not think there had been criminal wrongdoing.

“As indicated by your client’s hiring of an attorney and an accountant, it appears that the District is sincere in its efforts to address past shortcomings and I would anticipate, and expect, that will continue,” Fisher also told Barnaby. “Please convey my decision to the Board of the Country Corner Fire District and encourage their continued efforts in serving the citizens of their district. Their responsibilities are the same as any other government agency, to serve our citizens in an ethical and fiscally responsible manner while discharging their duties to the community.”