A sealed indictment, opened on Monday, Jan. 14, reveals more about the 10 felony counts filed against Delaware County attorney Winston H. Connor II.
The charges, which include solicitation for murder, racketeering, and pandering for prostitution, are among those issued but the 17th Multicounty Grand Jury on Nov. 16, 2018.
Connor, who was vacationing in Turks and Caicos at Club Med Turkoise, was taken into custody by officials from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, on Saturday, Jan. 12, as he re-entered the country at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Connor, 54, is a native of North Carolina. According to online records he was booked into the Mekenburg County Jail in Charlotte at 7:38 p.m., on Saturday.
Connor was scheduled to take part in a hearing concerning extradition back to Oklahoma on Monday afternoon, according to online records for the county. He is being held in Charlotte on $500,000 bond on “fugitive, extradition other state” charges.
A copy of the arrest warrant, obtained Saturday by The Grove Sun, indicates Tulsa County District Judge Kelly Greenough signed the document on Nov. 16.
At the same time Connor was taken into custody, law enforcement officials, including members of the Grand River Dam Authority Police, were observed executing search warrants at both his home and the Stockwell & Connor, PLLC, office in Jay.
The charges include the following: racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault and battery, solicitation for murder - first degree,pandering for prostitution, unlawful proceeds, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, witness tampering, unlawful communication with a convict, solicitation of prostitution and pattern of criminal offenses.
District 13 District Attorney Kenny Wright said the charges were pursued by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office after the results of a wiretap became known.
Wright said all wiretap applications for the state, regardless of the agency, are made through the state attorney general’s office.
He said the indictment, and subsequent arrest of Connor, came from an investigation initiated by and brought to the multicounty grand jury by officials from the attorney general’s office.
Because of the “highly confidential” nature of the grand jury process, Wright said he was unaware of the investigation into Connor and his subsequent indictment until the findings were made public on Monday.
Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, said officials would not release any information concerning the charges.
“Our only comment is we aren’t going to comment on an ongoing investigation,” Gerszewski said.
Calls left for Connor’s lawyers, Paul DeMuro and Stan Monroe, by The Grove Sun were not returned as of press time.
Monroe told a reporter from the Tulsa World he was “surprised” by the charges, and the manner in which his client was taken into custody.
“We’ve known the investigation, at least part of it, had been going on for some time. But I haven’t seen the indictment,” Monroe told the Tulsa World Sunday. “He’s a lawyer. He’s not a flight risk. I thought the prosecutors would have given him the courtesy of turning himself in, but I guess it didn’t happen that way.
“I firmly believe in Winston’s innocence and I will do anything I can to help him.”
DeMuro echoed Monroe’s thought, issuing a statement to the Tulsa World on Sunday.
“This arrest is one of the most outrageous abuses of power I’ve seen in 23 years of practice.
“Winston is a longtime Oklahoma lawyer in good standing,” DeMuro said in the statement. “The state has known Winston is represented by counsel. Since the arrest warrant was issued, Winston has practiced in courts throughout the northeastern part of the state on a near daily basis.
“Winston is innocent and we will fight this tooth and nail.”
Background on the charges
In September 2017, recorded cell phone wiretap conversations and text messages, linking Connor with Slint Tate’s drug ring, were released to the media by Oklahoma District 13 District Attorney Kenny Wright.
Wright released the information after the wiretaps were presented as evidence in open court during the ongoing prosecution of Tate and multiple accomplices.
At the same Wright confirmed Connor was under investigation in connection with Tate’s RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization] drug ring, for his possible involvement in the destruction of evidence, an assault and battery and an alleged solicitation for murder.
When contacted by Grove Sun reporters by phone and text message, about his possible involvement with the Tate wiretap, Connor replied by text “I had ‘no involvement’.” He did not answer subsequent messages.
At least 28 defendants faced felony charges in connection with the drug ring’s criminal activities. Many were prosecuted in Ottawa County District Court.
Others, including Tate and his common-law wife, Robin Tracy Zumwalt, and five others were charged in federal court for their involvement in the methamphetamine ring which at one time netted more than $1 million a week.
Tate received an additional 20 years to his no-parole life sentence. He used cellphones smuggled into the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and ran the million dollar ring from behind bars.
Tate is serving a life sentence for the 1999 shooting death of Vernie Milford Roberts, a Delaware County reserve sheriff’s deputy. He was 16 at the time of the fatal shooting.
The last member of the Tate drug ring Dinah Williams, entered a no contest plea on Sept. 14, 2018, to an amended charge of receiving and concealing proceeds derived from illegal drug activity.
• Libel charges
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, Connor filed a $725,000 lawsuit against Wright, alleging he was defamed by Wright’s actions in releasing the wire tap to local media.
Connor filed the suit in Delaware County District Court, charging Wright committed libel, libel per se and slander, when he released an audio conversation between Connor and Tate, at the time Tate was a prisoner within the Oklahoma Correctional System.
Connor wrote in his suit Wright "knowingly and maliciously" committed acts "of slander and libel" during his release of the wiretaps to members of the media. Connor requested the lawsuit be decided by a jury trial.
The libel case is still pending as of press time.
• More info
The story detailing the wire tap may be found http://bit.ly/wiretapConnor.
The story detailing the libel charges may be found at http://bit.ly/libelconnorwright.
Additional information about the specific charges and the three women indictment in a second "John Doe" filing by the multicounty grand jury, will appear in Friday's issue of The Grove Sun and online.