Lawyer ac­cused of mur­der plot, rack­e­teer­ing

Win­ston Con­nor II is also jailed in N.C. on wit­ness tam­per­ing com­plaint

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Saman­tha Vi­cent

Au­thor­i­ties in North Carolina ar­rested a Jay at­tor­ney ac­cused of so­lic­i­ta­tion for first-de­gree mur­der, wit­ness tam­per­ing and rack­e­teer­ing re­lated to his con­tact with a con­victed mur­derer who op­er­ated a drug ring from prison.

The 10-count state mul­ti­county grand jury in­dict­ment against 54-year-old Win­ston Con­nor II is ex­pected to be un­sealed in Tulsa County Dis­trict Court on Mon­day morn­ing.

Con­nor is charged with rack­e­teer­ing, as­sault with a dan­ger­ous weapon with an al­ter­na­tive of ag­gra­vated as­sault and bat­tery, so­lic­i­ta­tion for mur­der, pan­der­ing for pros­ti­tu­tion and ob­tain­ing un­law­ful pro­ceeds.

He also faces counts of con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute a con­trolled sub­stance, wit­ness tam­per­ing, un­law­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion with a con­vict, so­lic­i­ta­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion and com­mit­ting a pat­tern of crim­i­nal of­fenses.

A copy of an ar­rest war­rant against Con­nor, which the Tulsa World ob­tained this week­end, in­di­cates Dis­trict Judge Kelly Gree­nough signed the doc­u­ment on Nov. 16 and au­tho­rized a bond of $500,000.

He was ar­rested at the Char­lotte Dou­glas In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Char­lotte, North Carolina, Satur­day evening after re­turn­ing to the United States from a

Con­nor, of Grove, re­mains jailed with­out bond Sun­day af­ter­noon in Char­lotte, where his charge is listed as “fugi­tive/ ex­tra­di­tion other state.” He is due in court Mon­day af­ter­noon to de­ter­mine whether he will agree to waive an ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing, ac­cord­ing to on­line va­ca­tion in the Caribbean.

logs main­tained sher­iff 's of­fice.

Stan Mon­roe, Con­nor's at­tor­ney, said a lawyer in Char­lotte will ap­pear in court with Con­nor on Mon­day to de­ter­mine the best way to fa­cil­i­tate his re­turn to Ok­la­homa.

He said he was “sur­prised” by the charges, as well as with the man­ner in which Con­nor was ap­pre­hended, be­cause Con­nor didn't get the chance to turn him­self in to po­lice once the war­rant went out to law en­force­ment.

“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 said Sun­day af­ter­noon. “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,” he said.

Co-de­fense at­tor­ney Paul DeMuro also is­sued a state­ment, say­ing “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 ... 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,” DeMuro said.

“Win­ston is in­no­cent and we will fight this tooth and nail.”

The Ok­la­homa At­tor­ney Gen­eral's Of­fice filed two sealed in­dict­ments against at least one per­son only iden­ti­fied as “John Doe” on Nov. 16 fol­low­ing three days of tes­ti­mony be­fore a mul­ti­county grand jury. The case num­ber stamped on the ar­rest war­rant against Con­nor matches the num­ber as­signed to one of the sealed in­dict­ments.

An at­tor­ney gen­eral's of­fice spokesman de­clined Sun­day af­ter­noon to com­ment on the con­tents of the ar­rest war­rant or its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sit­u­a­tion. A prob­a­ble cause af­fi­davit out­lin­ing by the lo­cal the ba­sis for the charges has not yet been made pub­lic.

A pre­vi­ous Tulsa World in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­am­ined Con­nor's re­la­tion­ship with Slint Tate, a Grove man who is serv­ing life with­out pa­role for a mur­der con­vic­tion, and whether Con­nor — Tate's then-at­tor­ney — as­sisted Tate with or or­dered him to en­gage in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

The charges are sim­i­lar to those ref­er­enced in the past by Kenny Wright, the dis­trict at­tor­ney for Delaware and Ot­tawa coun­ties, when his of­fice dis­cov­ered the drug ring and its par­tic­i­pants.

Ok­la­homa law en­force­ment per­son­nel wire­tapped a phone Tate, 35, had smug­gled into prison and had used to com­mu­ni­cate with Con­nor in May 2016. Shortly after­ward, pros­e­cu­tors filed state charges against peo­ple they be­lieve had in­volve­ment in the multi-state drug ring that re­port­edly brought in up to $1 mil­lion per week in sales.

Wright has charged a to­tal of 28 peo­ple in state court in con­nec­tion with the ring but did not pur­sue a case against Tate, not­ing in 2017 that he is al­ready serv­ing life with­out pa­role.

How­ever, Tate and six oth­ers were named in a 25-count fed­eral in­dict­ment in the North­ern Dis­trict of Ok­la­homa, ac­cused of — among other crimes — con­spir­acy to pos­sess with in­tent to dis­trib­ute metham­phetamine.

In that case, Tate was charged with us­ing smug­gled cell­phones while in­car­cer­ated at Ok­la­homa State Pen­i­ten­tiary in McAlester to di­rect metham­phetamine trans­ac­tions in the Mi­ami, Ok­la­homa, area in 2015 and 2016.

Fed­eral court records show Tate pleaded guilty in Septem­ber to one count of con­spir­acy and re­ceived a sen­tence of 20 years in Bureau of Prisons cus­tody fol­lowed by five years of su­per­vised re­lease. The term is con­sec­u­tive to his prison sen­tence for mur­der.

Wright made a col­lec­tion of taped phone calls be­tween Tate and Con­nor pub­lic dur­ing a 2017 court hear­ing re­lated to the state charges. Wright told the World at the time that pros­e­cu­tors started look­ing at Con­nor's pos­si­ble role in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity due at least in part to his com­ments in the record­ings.

He said he pro­vided the tapes to fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

As a re­sult of those state­ments, Con­nor filed a li­bel law­suit against Wright, who him­self filed an ethics com­plaint against Con­nor with the Ok­la­homa Bar As­so­ci­a­tion.

At the time of the law­suit, Mon­roe told the World there was “no ba­sis” for the al­le­ga­tions Wright made against Con­nor and ac­cused Wright of vi­o­lat­ing at­tor­ney codes in draw­ing pub­lic­ity to po­ten­tial crim­i­nal cases.

Mon­roe said Sun­day that the li­bel law­suit re­mains pend­ing. In it, Con­nor de­nies hav­ing in­volve­ment in a drug ring or en­gag­ing in “or­ga­nized and cor­rupt be­hav­ior” of any kind.

In one call Wright pro­vided to the World, Con­nor can be heard dis­cussing de­stroy­ing a cell­phone that Wright con­tends was linked to Tate's drug traf­fick­ing ef­forts.

Wright also al­leged a man had been se­verely beaten after be­ing iden­ti­fied dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Con­nor and Tate as the per­son who stole a ve­hi­cle be­long­ing to Con­nor's sec­re­tary's fam­ily.

Con­nor ad­di­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to Wright, spoke with Tate about an­other man who is serv­ing life with­out pa­role for rap­ing and mur­der­ing a Tulsa woman. Con­nor re­port­edly said that the man in ques­tion as­saulted a woman Con­nor had been dat­ing at the time.

Wright said Tate made it ap­par­ent to au­thor­i­ties that he un­der­stood Con­nor's ac­count of the sit­u­a­tion to him as “a re­quest to mur­der the guy and be­gan tak­ing steps to­ward ac­com­plish­ing that goal.”



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