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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Update: Chandler attorney turns himself in on cattle theft, embezzlement charges

  • While a Chandler attorney indicted on seven felony counts surrendered himself for arrest Thursday, he has also relinquished his license to practice law, meaning many of the clients he was representing in court cases are now being referred to the Oklahoma Bar Association.
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    While a Chandler attorney indicted on seven felony counts surrendered himself for arrest Thursday, he has also relinquished his license to practice law, meaning many of the clients he was representing in court cases are now being referred to the Oklahoma Bar Association.
     
    Former Lincoln County Associate District Judge Craig S. Key, 47, turned himself in to authorities at the Lincoln County courthouse in Chandler, where his bond was set at $10,000 and he was ordered to wear an ankle monitor with a GPS tracking device.
     
    Key, who was escorted from a courtroom to the adjoining sheriff’s office, was booked into jail on the charges and then released after posting the $10,000 cash bond. As part of his bail, Key must wear the ankle monitor and remain within a 100-mile radius of Chandler. He also had to surrender his passport.
     
    The former judge, who was indicted by Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury last week for embezzlement and cattle theft, also has voluntarily turned in his license to practice law with the Oklahoma Bar Association, said his attorney, Cheryl Ramsey.
     
    Ramsey, who said Key’s clients are being referred to her and on to the Oklahoma Bar Association for further assistance, said Key resigned as an attorney to better concentrate on defending himself. She said they filed motions Thursday seeking the grand jury transcripts in this case.
     
    “We’ll proceed with preparing the case…and get everything to jury trial where he’ll be found not guilty,” she said.
     
    The bench warrant for which Key appeared followed the filing of three separate cases by Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
     
    The Attorney General’s Multicounty Grand Jury Unit investigated the claims of this case jointly with assistance from agents with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
     
    Key is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit larceny of domestic animals, one count of larceny of domestic animals, three counts of delivery of a forged note or instrument and two counts of embezzlement.
     
    The indictment alleges Key stole 13 head of cattle and a trailer in September. He is also accused of embezzling $71,583 from two separate clients while working as an attorney. The grand jury alleged that Key was supposed to use the funds to pay his clients’ medical bills but instead used the money for other purposes.
     
    Until the indictments were released last week, much about the investigation was unknown other than a search warrant had been executed in March at Key’s law offices located on East First Street, also known as SH 66, in Chandler.
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    Rather than local judges hearing this case, two judges — one from Kay County and another from Payne County — are listed as presiding judges for Key’s court proceedings. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for June 7.
     
    Key, although practicing law the past few years, was the former Lincoln County judge who oversaw the well-known child abuse case of Kelsey Smith-Briggs. Key returned the 2-year-old Meeker girl to the care of her mother despite concerns by DHS, and Kelsey later died several months later in October 2005.
     
    Kelsey’s mother, Raye Dawn Smith, 33, was convicted of enabling child abuse and is serving a 27-year prison sentence. Kelsey’s stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
     
    Key also wrote a book about the case.
     
    If convicted of the allegations in these indictments, Key could face up to 10 years in prison for each of the cattle counts, plus pay a fine up to three times the amount of the valued cattle, up to $500,000.
     
    On the delivery of a forged note or instrument charges, Key could face up to seven years in each count upon conviction and up to 10 years in each of the embezzlement counts.
     
    In the cattle theft case, Joshua E. Anderson, 36, of Agra, and Leslie Bottger, 47, of Agra, also are named in the indictment and face charges in that matter.
     
    Watch for updates.
     

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