An Oklahoma County District Judge, Tammy Bass-LeSure, was back at work on Thursday, two weeks after she was charged with felony fraud for taking foster care payments for twins that she adopted, but secretly gave to another woman to raise.
“I’m doing what the citizens elected me to do, and I will continue to do so. I will continue to fight to clear my name and to work hard,” she said from her desk in her chambers.
Bass-LeSure was first elected to the bench 12 years ago, and until recently, handled criminal cases. Lately, she had been hearing adoption, probate and guardianship cases, although authorities said she will no longer be involved in adoption cases.
The judge has been on paid leave after she was charged with the crimes. As an elected official, she can only be removed from her position by the state Court of the Judiciary, which has not taken action on the matter.
Judge Tammy-Bass LeSure, 43, and husband Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, allegedly took $22,000 in foster care reimbursements from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services beginning in January 2008, when they agreed to become foster parents of the infant boy and girl. The DHS paid the pair $730 per month.
Around the same time, according to prosecutors, they gave the children to LeSure’s bailiff’s sister, Ravona Latrice Edwards, who has been raising the children ever since. Edwards told investigators that other than DHS payments to day-care providers, she had not received any compensation or assistance for the care of the children.
The judge was charged with 30 counts of making fraudulent claims and two counts of perjury, while her husband was charged with two counts of making a false claim and two counts of perjury. The district attorney’s chief investigator said that the judge used some of the money in Texas and Maryland “at spas, nail salons and casinos,” according to an affidavit that was part of the filing.
Prosecutors said that the judge took repeated actions to suppress the truth about who had custody of the children “through trick, false appearances and/or unfair acts.”
The judge and her husband have had financial troubles in recent years, filing for bankruptcy in 2009, reporting debts of more than $1 million.
The judge currently earns over $120,000 from her post.
Information from: The Oklahoman