Tulsa police officer faces stiffer charges
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
10/24/12 at 7:26 AM
A judge ruled Tuesday that Tulsa County prosecutors can upgrade the charges against a Tulsa police officer who is accused of robbing Hispanic drivers he had stopped.
With that ruling, Officer Marvin Blades Jr. faces significantly more exposure, in terms of possible punishment, than with the original robbery charge.
Blades 37, was charged Aug. 31 with five counts of second-degree robbery, a charge that carries a possible punishment of not more than 10 years in prison per count.
But a the conclusion of a preliminary hearing that began Oct. 12, Special Judge Deborrah Ludi Leitch found sufficient evidence Tuesday to bind Blades over for trial on five counts of robbery with a firearm, as requested by a prosecutor.
Robbery with a firearm carries a punishment range of five years to life in prison per count.
Blades, who remains in the Tulsa Jail, is on administrative leave from the Tulsa Police Department without pay.
The charges involve accusations that the defendant - while driving his patrol car, dressed in a Tulsa police uniform and possessing a gun in a holster - would pull over drivers on traffic stops outside his assigned patrol beat, would order them to hand over their wallets, and then would take money from those wallets before returning them.
The charge lists five victims, all of whom testified at the preliminary hearing.
One count involves an accusation that Blades stole money during a traffic stop in which the victim was an undercover law enforcement official involved in this investigation, testimony indicated.
In a court document filed in support of a request for the stronger robbery charge, Tulsa County District Attorney Doug Drummond asserted that "each and every victim testified that the defendant possessed a gun at the time he was giving orders, although none of them says he pointed it at them or made any overt threats."
According to Drummond, "even the undercover officer said he was fearful of what the defendant might do, especially since the defendant had a firearm."
All of the victims testified that they complied with Blades' commands because he was a uniformed police officer who was ordering them to do so, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney James Linger can challenge Ludi Leitch's ruling when the case proceeds in the court of District Judge Tom Gillert, the prospective trial judge.
According to statute, taking property from another person is not robbery "when it clearly appears the taking was fully completed without his (the victim's) knowledge."
According to Linger, in this case the victims didn't know money had been taken from them until some time after it allegedly was taken, even assuming - as is done at preliminary hearings - that the evidence is viewed in a light most favorable to the prosecution.
Based on the evidence evaluated in that light, a charge of larceny from a person is more suitable than a robbery charge, Linger said.
Ludi Leitch declined a request by Drummond to add a sixth count, knowingly concealing stolen property.
At Drummond's request, the judge allowed the prosecution to amend the charge to list the charge of extortion as an "alternative theory" to the robbery counts.
Extortion will not be an additional count but rather an alternative theory on each of the five robbery counts.
Original Print Headline: Charges against officer are stiffened
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Marvin Blades Jr.: He faces added jeopardy under upgraded counts involving a firearm