Oklahoma County Judge Charged with Fraud

An Oklahoma County District Judge formerly associated with the high-profile Oklahoma City homicide case of pharmacist Jerome Ersland has been charged with fraud in Oklahoma County. 

Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, who excused herself from the Ersland case, is accused of collecting state funds to care for two children whom she adopted and then gave to another woman.  Allegedly, Bass-LeSure collected more than $22,000 in public funds for the care of the twin boy and girl. 

Investigators say that Bass-LeSure used some of the money to pay support for the two children, but used the rest for personal reasons, including spa and salon services and casinos. Judge Bass-LeSure and her husband, Karlos LeSure, were charged with fraud on Friday, January 21, 2011. 

They turned themselves in to authorities on Monday for booking, fingerprinting, and their first court appearance on Oklahoma felony fraud charges. According to a district attorney's investigation, Bass-LeSure and her husband became foster parents to the twins in January 2008.  Four months later, they adopted the children, but then gave them to another woman--the sister of Judge Bass-LeSure's bailiff. 

The couple continued to collect adoption subsidies from the state, giving part of the funds to the bailiff's sister for the care of the children, but keeping the rest for personal use.  They are accused of making false statements regarding who was caring for the children in order to continue receiving payments. 

The subsidies would have continued until the children's nineteenth birthdays. Judge Bass-LeSure faces two counts of perjury and thirty counts of making a fraudulent claim.  Her Oklahoma fraud lawyer told reporters that the allegations are not true and that the judge maintains her complete innocence. Oklahoma County District Court Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure stepped down from the widely publicized case of pharmacist Jerome Ersland after allegations of misconduct. 

After excusing herself from the case, she stopped handling criminal cases and began hearing probate, guardianship, and adoption cases.