Ed Bryson indictment: That’s their story and they’re sticking to it

On September 27, 2012, Ed Bryson was indicted for perjury.  Bryson lives in Washington state.  He was a Windstream employee and friend of Sisney at the time Sisney illegally and secretly signed the Windstream contract for Broken Arrow Schools and accepted the reward of an all-expense-paid trip to the 2007 Final Four in Atlanta.

Sisney and Bryson told the same story:  that Bryson had been given the Final Four tickets and associated lodging, food, drinks, other entertainment, souvenirs, and transportation by his company, Windstream.  Bryson told the grand jury that since he had a prior committment and couldn’t go, he gave his tickets to his friend Jim Sisney, superintendent of Broken Arrow Schools.  Jim Sisney told the state auditor the same thing.

Bryson and Sisney both knew that Broken Arrow Schools was a Windstream customer.  This was in early 2007, and at the time, the District was in its third year of a 5-year contract that had been approved by the school board in 2004.  Even though its term was not up until 2009, Sisney had just finished negotiating and signing a secret new 5-year contract with Windstream.  Superintendents are not authorized to enter contracts on behalf of the school district; only the school board is.  Sisney hid this contract from the school board and the District.  They did not learn of its existence, or his trip to the Final Four, until after he was fired from Broken Arrow Schools.

The grand jury indicted Sisney of bribery and conspiracy against a school district, based on Windstream documents that showed him and Broken Arrow Schools on a list of customers who were going to receive the Final Four trip package.  In addition, testimony indicated that the tickets had been delivered directly to Sisney’s office at Broken Arrow Schools by Windstream, not given to him by Bryson.

It would be incredibly stupid for Bryson to give Sisney this valuable trip package, knowing that Sisney was superintendent of a public school and it could look like bribery, even if he didn’t know about the new secret illegal contract.  It would be incredibly stupid for Sisney to accept the tickets from his friend Bryson, knowing that it could be perceived as bribery in light of the District’s relationship with Windstream.  In fact it was incredibly stupid and sneaky of Sisney to accept the gift from Windstream, but this is someone who thinks he is entitled to whatever he can get away with, and that he’s too clever to be caught.

Bryson will probably try the same thing that Sisney and Windstream are trying:  file to dismiss on the grounds that the Grand Jury’s term had run out before the indictments were issued.  I wonder how that will hold up, since the indictments read:

By the order of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, the Thirteenth Multicounty Grand Jury was convened with its principal site to be in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, to serve from February 22, 2011 until August 22, 2012, or until the designated presiding judge determines the Thirteenth Multicounty Grand Jury has reached reasonable completions of its investigations, but in any event, no more than twenty-four (24) months from the commencement of its term.

Sisney and Windstream argued that the Grand Jury’s term was up on August 22, 2012, two days before the indictments were issued.  From the language in the indictments, it sounds like the presiding judge could extend the term up until February 22, 2013.  I know it’s standard procedure and best practices to try to get the case thrown out before it starts, so this is not an unreasonable step.  But by now I am tired of seeing Sisney disregard laws for himself and then invoke them against others to get himself off the hook.

The judge is due to rule on Sisney’s motion to dismiss by October 30, 2012.

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Y’all have gotten awfully quiet lately, William Swaim of the Broken Arrow Ledger and Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City.  Where’s that righteous indignation and demand for “transparency”?  Why no scathing editorials or press conferences about the money Sisney has cost BA Schools?  Let’s see, $80,000+ to pay out his contract and make him go away; $250,000+ on secret bonuses for his friends in BA Schools; $300,000+ in legal bills brought on solely by his attempts to exploit the court system to intimidate people; 40,000+ for the audit (not to mention the state having to pick up the tab for the train wreck Combs audit), and who knows what the District has lost in terms of talented teachers and administrators.  Given Sisney’s lack of concern for laws and District finances, does anybody believe the Windstream trip, the secret stipends, the unauthorized purchase orders, and the illegal contracts are the extent of Sisney’s financial mismanagement?

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