Nation - Oklahoma Man freed by corruption probe resumes life as usual

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A Tulsa man who was allegedly wrongfully imprisoned for more than four years says getting his life back on track is a top priority now that he's been freed.

Bobby Wayne Haley Sr., 55, was released May 21 from a prison in Texas after serving time for a drug conviction. Prosecutors now say he was set up by a drug informant allegedly coached by two undercover police officers.

Haley said he plans to reconnect with his family and to rebuild his business.

Haley's attorney, Wes Johnson, said his client will be filing a lawsuit against those believed to be involved in Haley's drug conviction.

In September 2005, Haley was sentenced to 22 years in prison for a cocaine conviction in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, records show.

In an affidavit filed in federal court, informant Rochelle Martin said she was coached by Tulsa Police Officers Jeff Henderson, 37, and Bill Yelton, 49, to falsely testify that drugs were being sold at Haley's salvage yard in Tulsa.

Based primarily on Martin's admission of giving false testimony, special prosecutor Jane W. Duke of Little Rock, Ark., asked a federal judge to vacate Haley's conviction, court records show.

"Crooked cops planted drugs on me to benefit themselves," Haley said in an interview with the Tulsa World.

Within 24 hours of being released from prison, Haley attended his son's graduation in Glenpool.

"I missed a lot of holidays and birthdays when I was in prison, but I got to make the graduation," he said.

While Haley had his 2005 conviction erased, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault with a dangerous weapon in 1991 and also to unlawful possession of a controlled drug, a felony, in 1994, Tulsa County District Court records show.

Haley said he has made poor choices.

"I have made mistakes that haunt me, but that is in the past," he said.

Haley said the first year in federal prison was the toughest.

"I was the sole provider for the family, so everything was falling apart while I was in prison," he said. "My mother and father helped out, but it was a tough time for the family."

While in prison, Haley said, he made up his mind to do all he could to free himself.

To earn money to help pay for legal bills, he relied upon his skills as an artist. At the request of other inmates, he drew portraits based on pictures, he said.

"One guy's mother cried when she got one of my portraits because she was so pleased with it," Haley said. "That touched me."

Through portrait sales, Haley said, he earned $900 to apply toward legal bills.

Duke, the U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas, is overseeing a grand jury probe into allegations of stolen drugs and money, planted drugs and false testimony by police officers in Tulsa.

Since the grand jury began, 11 people have been freed from federal prison or have had their convictions or drug cases dismissed in federal or state court. One former federal agent, Brandon McFadden, 33, has pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and is cooperating with Duke's office while he awaits sentencing. Meanwhile, the Tulsa Police Department has placed two police officers, including Henderson, on paid leave pending the outcome of the federal investigation.

Henderson and Yelton have not been charged with a crime. Yelton remains on active duty with the Tulsa Police Department but has not returned calls made by the World. Yelton and Henderson are assigned to the department's Special Investigations Division.

A third officer, John K. Gray, 43, has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the federal investigation. Gray has also not been charged with a crime.

Published: Wed, Jun 2, 2010

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