Dwight Dee Schieber: Guilty, due back in court March 6
The end of a long process in the criminal cases against two former Kay County commissioners that started with an audit by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector General has at least for the time being come to a conclusion with the conviction of Dwight Dee Schieber on six of seven misdemeanor counts for willful violation of law regulating official conduct. The trial took three day last week with Judge Stephen Kistler of Payne County presiding over the case.
The jury took less than two hours on Feb. 14 to return the verdicts. The jury recommended six months in the Kay County Detention Center and a $500 fine for five of the counts and a nine month sentence on the last count. The jury also found Schieber not guilty on one count.
Schieber is due back in court on March 6 for the official sentencing and was released on his own recognizance.
The case goes back as far as 2013 on some of the allegations, but with the audit and attorneys trying to decide on charges it was 2017 before Schieber was charged.
The orinal allegation included multiple counts of corruption against Schieber and Tyson Rowe. The allegations surround ten road and bridge projects costing $5,253,747 and the bidding procedures used.
Rowe was originally charged with racketeering, 12 counts of willful violation of law regulating official conduct, two counts of embezzlement by a county officer and embezzlement by a public officer. Rowe plead no contest and got 90 days in jail and deferred sentence on all the other counts. Rowe should be wrapping up his jail time as he was scheduled to report on December 1, 2019..
The audit was requested by Mike Fields, District Attorney for the 4th District of Oklahoma, requested the assistance of the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector in conducting an audit of the Kay County Board of County Commissioners in connection with allegations of improper bidding and vendor preference.
The report which is 58 pages long (Report will be posted on blackwelljournaltribune.net) was the basis of the allegations filed in 2017.
Among the key findings in the audit are: Kay County awarded more than $5 million in public construction and reconstruction projects in apparent violation of the Public Competitive Bidding Act; the county commissioners utilized term-bid contracts to circumvent the Public Competitive Bidding Act. There were ten contracts reviewed ranging from over $13,000 to $1.9 million with all of the projects alleged to have been awarded through the county’s term bids or through no bids at all; Schieber, BIA Regional Roads Engineer Tom Simpson, and River Ridge Construction collaborated in the execution of the $1.7 million North Pecan Road project. It is alleged that Schieber entered into an agreement without bids and outside of his statutory authority. It is further alleged that the commissioners did not obtain a contract from the vendor, failed to obtain proof of bonding or insurance from the contractor and paid $350,000 in projected “mobilization” costs to “cover up-front expenses.
The OASI also alleges in the audit that Kay County overpaid River Ridge Construction more than $500,000 as part of the Blackwell Wind Farm Roads project. In an allegation against Rowe, the audit alleges that Rowe and the owner of River Ridge Construction circumvented purchasing laws in Kay County’s acquisition of an $180,000 vibratory pile driver. After acquiring the pile driver, the County continued to allow River Ridge Construction to use it on county projects because the county did not have the equipment to attach it to.
Rowe and Schieber are alleged to have manipulated the bidding process to purchase, trade, finance, and sell trailers. Over the course of a year, the former commissioners, Irwin Trailer, and River Ridge Construction participated in the buying and selling of almost a dozen belly-dump trailers. Besides the belly dump trailers purchases there are at least two times where the low bid was not used to purchase trailers.
The final key finding was that Rowe’s private business subcontracted with River Ridge Construction to perform work for Kay County on two projects totaling nearly $20,000, in apparent violation of the Oklahoma Constitution.
The investigation started back in 2013 when the initial complaint was filed against Rowe and Schieber for violating competitive bidding laws and that construction bids exceeding $50,000 had allegedly been improperly bid. The audit was also done to see if River Ridge Construction LLC was receiving preferential treatment for road projects and other county business without the proper bidding procedures.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issue surfaced during the audit when six of the road projects were alleged to not have been advertised for bids, had bids awarded or contracts on the projects were created and that no proof of funding to the BIA was provided.
The OASI also alleged that the county clerk’s office was not following proper procedures in modifying purchase orders after being issued, issuing purchase orders out of sequence and that in some instances purchase orders were cancelled and reused. There were also several examples cited were work was done before the purchase order was encumbered into the system and other alleged contracts were given out prior to the bid opening dates.
The audit report also cited several alleged issues of conflict of interest where personal work for Schieber and Rowe was done by River Ridge Construction at their residences.
Among other items highlighted in the report include the sale of land for the new jail, the use of R&R dirt Contractors in which Rowe was a co-owner, the expenditure of the smelter settlement money by Rowe and possible open meetings violations by Rowe and Schieber on at least three different occasions.
The entire audit has been posted on blackwelljournaltribune.net at https://www.blackwelljournaltribune.net/editions/97/view/1085/bjt_2020-02-18_1085.pdf and is also available at www.sai.ok.gov.
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