Logan County Commissioner target of OSBI investigation; AG Office’s now reviewing case

A Logan County Commissioner is being investigated for possible embezzlement. The case reportedly has now been turned over to the Attorney General’s Office after the Logan County District Attorney’s Office recused from the case.

“Very recently a criminal investigation conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) was presented to my office alleging possible embezzlement charges against a Logan County elected official,” Logan County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas said in a release to Guthrie News Page. 

Guthrie News Page has learned through multiple sources that the investigation revolves around District 2 County Commissioner Kody Ellis.

Ellis was sworn into office in January 2021.

Following a January 13, 2023, Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, OSBI officials requested and spoke to Ellis in a closed-door meeting.

The specific details of the embezzlement with the investigation have not been publicly released by any agency or office.

After reviewing the investigation, Thomas says she has recused her office from the case and has turned the matter over to the Attorney General’s Office.

“Although District Attorneys do not typically comment on criminal investigations before they are complete, I want our citizens to understand some unique aspects of this matter. In addition to other duties, state statutes make the District Attorney the legal advisor to all elected county officials regarding the performance of those jobs, county business related to those jobs and other civil law issues. In that regard only, the elected county officers are clients of the District Attorney. The District Attorney does NOT represent elected county officials in any criminal prosecutions. A District Attorney’s primary duty is to prosecute and protect our communities from the effects of criminal activity committed by anyone.  Nonetheless, a legal conflict of interest occurs when a District Attorney receives a completed investigation implicating an elected county official. When such a conflict occurs, the D.A. is ethically required to recuse themselves from the criminal prosecution. This conflict applies to elected county officials only and not their employees. The recusal process involves the conflicted District Attorney contacting the Office of the Attorney General, advising them they must recuse, and asking the A.G. to determine where the presented investigation should go. The Attorney General can decide to prosecute any crimes from the investigation himself or he can assign the matter to an outside District Attorney for prosecution. Once the conflicted District Attorney recuses, normally she/he has no further involvement with the criminal matter.”

She concluded by saying, “Now that the matter has been presented, I have recused for the reasons explained above and the matter has been referred to the Attorney General.”

Thomas adds she is uncertain what the Attorney General’s Office will do in the matter.

“They will need time to process the investigation. I have no doubt they will do what they believe is the best thing. In my many years of working with their office, they have been diligent, highly competent and skilled in all their duties.”

She added, “I have never seen them (Attorney General’s Office) let someone keep their job if they have committed crimes related to their office. It is simply not the way things work.”

Thomas says the pending investigation has complicated the jobs of other elected county officials who must continue to conduct the business of the county while one officer is noticeably absent or unable to be reached. 

In response, Thomas has requested the Attorney General’s office to consider removal from office as a possible consequence for the absent official.

“In the meantime, we are advising our elected officials as to how they may proceed with business. This has been a complicated legal area to wade through, but we do things the best and correct way only and will continue to do so. Likewise, our other elected county officials are faithfully doing their own jobs with only their community’s best interests at the core of every decision they make.  Logan County traditionally has been blessed with outstanding, diligent and honest elected county officials, and we are proud to stand with them.”

Logan County District 2 County Commissioner Kody Ellis


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