Judge Spends Foster Care Payments at Spas and Casinos

An Oklahoma judge and her husband are charged with 36 counts of fraud and perjury in relation to their fostering and adoption of three year-old twins.

Judge Tammy Bass-Lesure and husband Karlos Lesure began fostering the boy and girl in 2008 after the children had been removed from their addict mother’s care. But while the Lesures collected the sum of $730.00 every month, the children were being raised by Judge Lesure’s court bailiff’s sister.

The Lesures later adopted the twins and continued to receive state funds in the form of monthly adoption subsidies, available to parents of limited means. Despite Judge Lesure’s $120,000 annual salary, the couple filed for bankruptcy in 2009 with debts of $1 million.

Oddly, in the final adoption documents, the Lesures applied for a surname change for the children, but not their surname. They requested the children take the surname of her court bailiff’s sister.

Oklahoma investigators scrutinized Judge Lesure’s bank account established to receive the state funds and confirmed the monies were used to pay for services at spas, nail salons and at casinos.

Judge Lesure however, is no stranger to controversy. Elected to the bench twelve years ago, she ran into some trouble last summer and was forced to recuse herself from a high-profile murder trial. At the time she had been working out with her personal trainer, Colton Taz Ama, who was also a defendant in her courtroom accused of drug offences.

While at the gym she and Mr. Ama discussed his pending case. He was wired and recorded their conversations which included her advice that he fire his lawyer and hire another lawyer, recommending several, including one of the lawyers appearing before her in the murder trial. It is also alleged she advised Ama that she was “willing to work a deal” and the recommended lawyers “know how she rolls”.

After her recusal she was removed from the criminal docket and assigned only cases of probate, adoption and guardianship.

Meanwhile, two weeks after Judge Lesure was fingerprinted and photographed on the felony charges she returned to her seat on the bench. As an elected judge she can only be removed by the State Court of the Judiciary.

Perhaps this is one good example of why judges should be appointed after rigorous scrutiny, rather than elected in popularity contests?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

2 thoughts on “Judge Spends Foster Care Payments at Spas and Casinos

  1. Problem is the “rigorous scrutinizers” can themselves be corrupt. But, I agree something needs to be done. More transparency. Citizen panels reviewing judicial nominees and conducting annual reviews even, dare I say, increasing judges salaries to attract better qualified candidates and perhaps reduce temptation.

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