Ex-Police Officer Jeff Henderson's testimony about confidential informant apparently wrong, prosecutor says
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Saturday, July 14, 2012
7/14/12 at 7:37 AM
Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents.
Former Tulsa Police Officer Jeff Henderson apparently was incorrect when he gave the name of a man he said was a confidential informant but who could not have given him the information Henderson used to obtain a search warrant in 2005, a federal prosecutor said in a federal court document made public Friday.
Henderson, who is serving a prison term on convictions for perjury and violating suspects' civil rights, was brought back to Tulsa to testify in a hearing before U.S. District Judge James Payne earlier this month. During his testimony, he revealed the name of a man he said he used as a confidential informant to obtain a search warrant in the drug case of Tony M. Becknell.
Paul DeMuro, Becknell's defense attorney, argued that Henderson's testimony this month "was not merely 'incorrect,' as the government contends; it was perjurious."
Becknell, who was convicted on two counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, is in federal prison and is scheduled for release in January 2014.
He is trying to have his conviction modified or thrown out as a result of the federal police corruption investigation that led to Henderson's convictions.
Until Henderson's testimony, no record of the informant's name had been introduced in Becknell's case, and no record existed, Henderson said.
A week after Henderson's testimony, DeMuro showed Tulsa Jail records showing that the man was in jail when Henderson said he received information from him in March 2005.
Henderson said he drove around with the informant and talked to him on the phone, receiving information that the informant saw drugs in two locations related to Becknell.
The statement that Henderson's testimony was incorrect came in a motion that was unsealed Friday. In that motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Reincke asked the court for more time given new information from someone other than Henderson concerning the true informant's identity.
In DeMuro's response to the government's request, he quotes Henderson's testimony, which matter-of-factly identified the informant and ruled out anyone else.
DeMuro's response questions the credibility of any information the government might have received.
"The court should not permit the government to prolong this injustice so it can chase down every johnnie-come-lately 'lead' offered up by Henderson's apologists," DeMuro wrote in his response.
DeMuro also claimed that Reincke has a conflict of interest that leads her "to overlook Henderson's clear perjury."
He requested that the judge either deny the government's request for more time to consider reopening the hearing or order expedited discovery of new information in the case.
In response, Payne ordered the government - apparently on Friday afternoon - to deliver all information it has received to the defense by the close of business the same day.
Police corruption investigation
The federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent began as early as 2008 and resulted in charges against six current or former Tulsa police officers and the federal agent, as well as accusations of criminal behavior against five unindicted officers.
At least 44 people have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil rights violations or potential problems with their cases.
Additionally, at least 11 lawsuits have been filed against the city and individual police officers as a result of the police corruption investigation.
Bonham was charged with five counts and DeBruin was charged with six counts related to theft of U.S. funds, civil rights violations, drug possession and possession of firearms. The Tulsa Police Department fired DeBruin and Bonham on Jan. 20 for failing to follow policies regarding "conduct unbecoming an officer" and "duty to be truthful and obedient."
- Jeff Henderson, who was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 1995, was convicted on two counts of civil rights violations and six counts of perjury. He was acquitted on 45 counts of perjury, civil rights violations, drug conspiracy and witness tampering. Henderson was sentenced to 42 months in prison, which he is serving in South Dakota.
- Brandon McFadden, hired as an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2002, was sentenced to 21 months in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy. McFadden cooperated with prosecutors.
- John K. "J.J." Gray, hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 1990, pleaded guilty to stealing money and was sentenced to four months in a Louisiana prison. He was released May 1. Gray cooperated with prosecutors.
- Harold R. Wells, hired as a Tulsa police officer in 1975, was convicted on five counts, but a federal judge later dismissed one count. Wells was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, which he is serving in Minnesota.
- Three police officers - Nick DeBruin, Bruce Bonham and Bill Yelton - were acquitted on civil rights violations in two separate cases.
Yelton retired in May, about nine months after police announced that an internal investigation was under way.
Original Print Headline: Prosecutor: Ex-cop apparently wrong about informant
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367
Former Tulsa Police Officer Jeff Henderson
Jeff Henderson: The former Tulsa police officer said he drove around with the informant and talked to him on the phone in March 2005