Car-crash testimony was a lie, Claremore officer suing DA over credibility issues acknowledged previously
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, March 02, 2013
3/02/13 at 1:03 PM
CLAREMORE — A Claremore police officer who recently sued a district attorney over allegations that the prosecutor disparaged his reputation was the subject of a previous disclosure by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he was not a credible witness, documents show.
In a June 2010 motion hearing for defendant Grant Andrew Stout in federal court in Tulsa, Claremore Police Detective John Singer was questioned about a car accident he had while on probation around 2000-01, records indicate.
Singer, who became a patrol officer in 2000, testified that he rear-ended another police car and “lied to my supervisor, failed to disclose that I had hit another police car for fear of losing my job, and instead said I had hit a deer,” federal records indicate.
The police officer also told the court that he “put the hair from a deer in the (car’s) grill in case it had been examined,” testimony shows. Singer, who had damaged his cruiser in a previous accident, obtained the deer hair from an associate “who farms deer” and didn’t notify a member of the department about the deception until “some couple of years later,” the officer testified.
In a federal suit filed last month, Singer is seeking to block Janice Steidley, the district attorney for Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties, and First Assistant District Attorney Bryce Lair from further disseminating any alleged “Giglio” material — information that could be used to impeach a government witness’ credibility — related to him, saying such action had caused irreparable damage to his reputation, employment and effectiveness as an investigator.
Giglio v. the United States is a 1972 Supreme Court case that established that the prosecution in a criminal case must present any evidence that could impeach the credibility of a government witness.
The District Attorney’s Office has disclosed that Singer has credibility problems in a pair of felony and deprived-juvenile cases, records show.
A federal judge recently denied Singer’s request for a temporary restraining order against the district attorney, writing that “at this early stage, Singer has not provided evidence to demonstrate either irreparable harm, or that he has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits.”
Clark Brewster is Steidley’s attorney.
Speaking of Singer’s 2010 testimony in federal court, Brewster said the officer “not only lied, but he took affirmative actions to cover it up.”
“How would you like this guy as your accuser, and his credibility is on the line between you being convicted or not? And you never knew that he had fabricated that kind of information in the past. I think that’s fair game.”
A Jan. 8 email from Steidley to Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown references an upcoming trial involving a defendant whom Singer has investigated. It asks whether anything in Singer’s personnel file would constitute Brady/Giglio (the Brady Supreme Court case was a precursor to Giglio).
Brown answered no in his email dated the same day, adding that “nothing in any of his performance or personnel actions has ever had the need to be presented to a finding of fact for consideration of wrongful action regarding this area of case law,” records show.
Brown said Thursday in an email response to the Tulsa World that Singer’s personnel file contains no write-ups for discipline or “any issue of dishonesty or untruthfulness,” adding that he found nothing that would warrant disclosure to the District Attorney’s Office.
The chief said in an email Friday that he conducted an internal personnel investigation into the matter and found that Singer “has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an outside law enforcement agency.”
Brewster said, “The point is, his (Singer’s) credibility certainly was found … by the U.S. attorney to be suspect, and that’s why it was submitted as Giglio material, which flies in the face of the lawsuit he has filed against her (Steidley).”
Chad Neuens, an attorney who represents Singer, defended his client after speaking with him Thursday.
“That’s not any comparison,” Neuens said of Singer’s federal court testimony in the Stout case. “Today, the allegation from the DA is that Detective Singer railroaded a defendant and then he filed false arrest affidavits. This is without any outside review.”
Steidley’s accusation centers around a videotaped interview in a Rogers County rape case that Singer investigated. She alleges that sworn affidavits compiled by Singer don’t match what the defendant said.
“If he truly had committed perjury, you would think they would be prosecuting him, and they haven’t,” Neuens said. “They are just throwing out allegations, and this is just more of the same.”
He said his client stands by information in the affidavits and “the fact he made a mistake as a rookie.”
Regarding the Stout case, it also was found that Singer made inaccurate statements about the defendant’s criminal record, documents show. But U.S. Magistrate Frank McCarthy found Singer’s testimony to be credible and found that his inaccuracies “were not intentional or made in reckless disregard for the truth.” The judge’s recommendation to deny the motion to quash Singer’s testimony was upheld on appeal.
Singer claims in his lawsuit that the Giglio tag is the prosecutors’ revenge for his criticisms of the District Attorney’s Office, his participation in the background investigation of a former district attorney’s investigator, Steidley’s concern that Singer’s wife was going to run against her for district attorney, and the prosecutors’ assumption that Singer was the principal source for a Jan. 6 Claremore Progress newspaper story that was critical of Steidley’s prosecutions of drug offenses investigated by Singer.
Steidley was elected district attorney in 2010.
Original Print Headline: Claremore officer testified about crash lie