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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Former Lincoln County judge faces more charges

  • A former Lincoln County judge already indicted on numerous charges now faces additional felony counts, including harboring a fugitive, and prosecutors also are seeking to revoke his bond.
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  • A former Lincoln County judge already indicted on numerous charges now faces additional felony counts, including harboring a fugitive, and prosecutors also are seeking to revoke his bond.
    New charges including delivery of a forged instrument have been filed against Craig S. Key, 47, in Lincoln County District Court as a result of the May session of the Oklahoma Multi-County grand jury.
    In counts involving delivery of a forged instrument, Key is accused in 2012 of depositing a $40,000 insurance check with a false signature for a client he represented in a personal injury claim. He is further accused of embezzling in excess of $31,421.28 of those funds that were intended to pay her medical bills but were instead used for other purposes, documents read.
    In another charge delivery of a forged instrument, Key, the former owner of a title company in Lincoln County, is accused for alleged incidents in 2011 while he was the owner and operator.
    That indictment shows Key and an employee were both required to sign checks for the escrow account but a check for $22,000 was allegedly passed by Key with both signatures, without the other employee's knowledge or consent, the charge alleges.
    In similar counts involving the title company, he is accused of forging the same employee's signature on four checks totaling about $42,041, the filing reads.
    There's also an indictment for Key and a co-defendant, Shanda Lynn Chastain, 43, of Shawnee, who is listed as Key's legal assistant, for a charge of harboring a fugitive.
    According to those indictments, Key was providing legal representation to Brandon Ray Dawson in a 2012 felony case in Lincoln County involving charges of knowingly concealing stolen property, possession of a firearm after former conviction and possession of controlled dangerous substance.
    According to the indictment, Dawson became a fugitive when he failed to appear in court, with bench warrants issued as he instead traveled to Kansas, New Mexico and Alaska for "purpose of avoiding prosecution," the document shows.
    The indictment alleges Chastain acted conjointly with Key, who provided encouragement, aid, assistance and concealment of Dawson by providing him with vehicles, money for hotel rooms, food, airplane tickets and living expenses, as well as access to a debit card on an account with Key's name, along with a cell phone.
    As part of the paperwork, the Oklahoma Attorney Generals' Office is asking for a revocation of Key's bond, which involved him posting a $10,000 cash bond on April 25. Bail requirements include him wearing an ankle monitoring device and staying within 100 miles of Chandler.
    According to filing, it was represented to the court that Key does not have a passport, but the AG's filing shows that on June 13, 2009, Craig was issued a passport and traveled to Mexico in 2009 and Spain in 2010.
    A motion for a hearing to revoke that bond has been requested to identify the source of Key's cash bond. Paperwork indicates prosecutors suspect Key used another client's settlement check to post his cash bond.
    Page 2 of 2 - Just last month, Key turned himself in on felony counts involving embezzlement, cattle theft and forgery, and was released after posting the cash bond. He also relinquished his license to practice law, which meant his clients were being referred to the Oklahoma Bar Association.
    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.
    The original indictment alleges Key stole 13 head of cattle and a trailer in September, with indictments alleging Key told Brandon Dawson, who is also the one named in connection with the harboring a fugitive indictment, to take the stolen cattle and sell them at the livestock sales barn in Waurika, with him being offered $200 from the proceeds. While attempting to sell the cattle, the indictment shows Dawson was approached by agents from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and the Waurika Livestock Commission, inquiring about stolen cattle.
    Key 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 first indictments were released in April, 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. That office now appears vacant.
    Key's first cases are set for review in June, with initial appearances on the new charges scheduled next week in Lincoln County.
    Watch for updates.

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