OKLAHOMA CITY — A former investigator for Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater alleges the prosecutor improperly went after the leader of the state’s criminal justice reform movement.
William Muller on Tuesday filed notice with Oklahoma County and the state that he intended to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
He alleged that he was fired for refusing to continue an illegal criminal investigation run by Prater against former House Speaker Kris Steele, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Steele is executive director for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Muller is seeking $125,000. The notice gives the state a chance to settle the issue. If it goes to trial, Muller is seeking $125,000 plus punitive damages.
“These allegations are ridiculous,” Prater said Friday. “When I am lawfully able to do so, it will be clear to everyone as to why Mr. Muller was terminated. When I am lawfully able to discuss the reason Mr. Muller was terminated, it will be very clear what is going on here.
“I am denying any wrongdoing, period.”
Muller alleges Prater felt that criminal justice reform was “bull---t” and expressed great anger toward anything that mentioned reform.
During the fall of 2017, Prater, without an ongoing investigation, open file or any known probable cause, ordered Muller to obtain a multicounty grand jury subpoena from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office, according to the claim.
Muller was told to obtain the banking and financial records for the organization Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, according to the claim.
“The aim of Mr. Prater’s personal inquiry, as stated directly by Mr. Prater to Muller, was to find incriminating or compromising information pertaining to former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Kris Steele, one of the most visible leaders of the criminal justice reform movement in Oklahoma,” according to the claim.
The investigation also included efforts to review donations by the ACLU to the criminal justice reform movement in Oklahoma, according to the claim.
The claim said Prater had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to seek the information “as his personal weapon against his political enemies.”
Muller told Prater he had found no evidence of criminality, according to the claim.
“Mr. Prater immediately became irrational and angry upon learning about the outcomes of Mr. Muller’s investigation,” the claim said.
Muller was fired in early 2019, according to the notice.
“I am reading the details of the claim for the first time,” Steele said in a statement. “I intend to monitor the facts as they unfold in this pending action.
“Meanwhile, I remain focused and committed on working with fellow Oklahomans to safely reduce our prison population, strengthen families and invest in alternatives to incarceration.”
Muller’s lawyer, Robert Gifford, said his client is a whistleblower.
Gifford said there were no allegations of misconduct or impropriety involving Muller, who is a former police officer and special agent for the U.S. Secret Service.
“If Mr. Muller or Mr. Gifford truly believed there was anything inappropriate, the proper thing would be to call the OSBI or the FBI, not the press,” Prater said.
Gifford also wrote Hunter’s office about his concern concerning the use of the multicounty grand jury to issue subpoenas when it was not warranted.
Gifford asked Hunter to investigate what information Prater provided to his office to get the subpoenas.
Gifford also wants Hunter to review of all multicounty grand jury subpoena requests from Prater’s office in recent years to ensure compliance and address concerns over prosecutorial abuse.
“Our office received the letter at 11 p.m. Wednesday night,” said Alex Gerszewski, a Hunter spokesman. “We are reviewing it and will respond in a timely fashion.”