An arrest warrant has been issued and a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of a public officer was filed Monday in Osage County District Court against Pawhuska City Manager Paul McAlexander.
The charge is in connection to a July 3 incident in which he allegedly discouraged police officers from arresting another city official for drunken driving.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in district court, the charge comes after an investigation into the incident conducted by Special Agent Marty Wilson with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown told the newspaper that their office was asked to investigate the matter by Osage County District Attorney Rex Duncan and the report was submitted to his office on Monday.
The affidavit states that Pawhuska City Attorney Jesse Worton III was involved in a single vehicle accident on July 3. Pawhuska police responded to the scene, as did McAlexander.
Reportedly, Worton told officers he was drunk during the incident. Following a chaotic scene in which officers attempted to contact Police Chief Scott Laird to seek guidance on how to handle the situation, McAlexander allegedly instructed officers to not charge Worten with driving under the influence. Laird was on vacation at the time and, reportedly, was not available to immediately return the phone calls by the officers.
According to a police video that was released to the Examiner-Enterprise, McAlexander told officers to hold Worten at the police station until either Worten “sobered up” or his wife arrived to pick him up. The video shows that officers complied with McAlexander’s instruction and transported Worten to the city jail. Because of the confusion, no alcohol test was given to Worten, resulting in the State not being able to issue a district court charge of driving under the influence. Instead, Worten was given a municipal citation for DUI later on July 3.
The affidavit states that Wilson interviewed Laird and other officers after the incident. The officers reportedly told Wilson that it was not standard procedure to issue a municipal citation for DUI. The standard procedure was to arrest the subject, book them into the Osage County Jail and filed district court charges. The affidavit alleges that the normal procedure was not followed because of McAlexander’s obstruction.
According to online district court records, local judges in the case against McAlexander have recused themselves. Presiding District Judge J. Dwayne Steidley of Claremore handled the initial proceedings. A warrant of arrest for McAlexander has been issued by the court. Reportedly, McAlexander is on vacation and not currently in Osage County.
Pawhuska City Council members voted in late July to reprimand McAlexander for the actions during the July 3 incident. He was also ordered to serve a two-week suspension. Since concluding his suspension, the city manager has been on a vacation — which is scheduled to conclude this week, according to a local official who asked to not be identified.
Worten is currently on a two-month medical leave of absence. His wife, Cathy Worten, who was a Pawhuska City Councilor at the time of the incident, has since resigned.
Bond for McAlexander was set at $1,000.
Duncan told the newspaper he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Phone calls to acting Pawhuska City Attorney W. Robert Wilson were not immediately returned.
Pawhuska Journal-Capital Reporter Mike Erwin contributed to this story.