By JESSICA WINDOM
NEWKIRK — A jury trial continues this week in Kay County District Court for former county commissioner Dee Schieber.
On March 31, 2017, former commissioners Schieber and Tyson Rowe were both charged with several crimes by the Oklahoma State Auditor’s Office.
Rowe, 40, has already received a 10-year deferred sentence on three charges of embezzlement of county property, two felony charges of embezzlement by a county officer, embezzlement by a public officer and nine felony charges of willful violation of law regulating official conduct. Rowe also received a one-year suspended sentence on the misdemeanor charges. He began serving his ordered 90 days in Kay County Detention Center on Dec. 1, 2019.
Schieber’s trial this week is being heard by Payne County Judge Steven Kesler.
Schieber, 65, served as Kay County Commissioner from 1995-2015. He has pled not guilty to seven misdemeanor charges of willful violation of law regulating official conduct.
On Wednesday, owners of local construction companies testified in court. The jury heard from the owners of River Ridge Construction, Hembree & Hodgson Construction, Clark Construction and Demolition, T.S. Construction and legal counsel for the Oklahoma State Auditor’s Office.
When Darren Wood, owner of River Ridge Construction, took the stand, Jarrod Stevenson, Schieber’s defense attorney, asked him a series of questions referring to the bidding process and bumping fees up.
Another issue discussed at the trial was the Public Competitive Bidding Act. This Act has been in place since the 1970s.
Mick Dodson, the State Auditor Inspector Legal Counselor, took the stand and explained this process. “When projects were bid, the county still did not go with the lowest bidders,” said Dodson.
Dodson also spoke of the sale of land near the county jail to River Ridge construction while on the stand. At the time, in 2011, Sheriff Everette VanHoesen wanted to save the space for a juvenile detention center. At that time Rowe and Schieber were set on selling 27.89 acres. Twenty-acres were sold to River Ridge Construction and 7.89 acres were sold to Leaming Construction. A certified appraisal for this land was never found by investigators.
Janson Clark, owner of Clark Construction and Demolition, was also called to the stand.
“It’s not worth my time and from the outside looking in River Ridge was getting all of the work,” Clark said. “I asked Schieber if there were formal bid documents and he said no just write a proposal. I had just started my company that year and made a proposal and was then disqualified because I didn’t have a formal bidding document. It was very embarrassing to be the fool standing there,” added Clark.
Testimony is ongoing and expected to last throughout the week at the Kay County Courthouse.
By JESSICA WINDOM