By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Jurors found former Kay County Commissioner Dee Schieber of violating his oath of office at the conclusion of his week-long trial Feb. 14, and he now awaits sentencing, scheduled for March 6.
The trial was prosecuted by Canadian County Assistant District Attorney Austin Murray.
Schieber was one of two former county commissioners indicted, which also included Tyson Rowe, who pleaded no contest. He was charged with one count of racketeering, six counts of embezzlement by a county officer and nine counts of willful violation of law regulating official conduct, according to court documents. He was sentenced in May 2019 to a term of 10 years of probation, along with 90 days in the Kay County Detention Center and fines and county restitution, Murray said.
Schieber was only charged with seven counts of willful disregard of laws regulating official conduct, Murray said.
“In construction contracts, they were awarded to one company, River Ridge Construction, and they should have been done with competitive sealed bids,” Murray said. “They were just given to the company without bids, which law requires.”
In count one, court documents say that Schieber, about Aug. 13, 2013, “requisitioned and caused a purchase order to be issued” for a construction project, and commissioners issued a payment of $13,251.27 to River Ridge Construction, Newkirk, without the necessary bid process required for construction contracts.
In count two, about July 1 of that year, Schieber requisitioned a purchase order for a construction contract, and commissioners approved a payment to River Ridge Construction for $155,286.20, according to court documents.
In count three, court records indicate that from about July 5, 2012 to about Jan. 18, 2013 Schieber requisitioned multiple purchase orders to improve the Kay County Courthouse parking lot, and commissioners approved a payment to River Ridge Construction for $325,698.27.
In charge four, about Nov. 6, 2013, Schieber was in communication with several individuals, including a River Ridge Construction representative, about construction on Pecan Road in Kay County, and that in Jan. 27, 2014, Schieber signed a contract cost submission with River Ridge Construction, along with a BIA Roads engineer, for $1,749,006, without the county commissioners’ involvement. Also, all charges were awarded without the bidding process required by law, court documents show.
In the fifth count, Schieber allegedly requisitioned and created a purchase order for River Ridge Construction for $1,700,000, for construction on Pecan Road, and commissioners approved payments totaling $1,715,894.24. This project had actually been bid by a second company, which had the lowest bid, but that bid had been ignored in favor of River Ridge Construction, court records indicate.
In count six, about Oct. 13, 2013, Schieber requisitioned a purchase order for costs relating to purchase and transportation for what was referred to as “native material,” and the form included a notation for “no bid native material” with a payment to Well Built, LLC, for $15,681.08. At the time, state laws indicated that materials for road and bridge construction don’t exceed $3 per ton that they did not have to use bidding procedures, court documents show.
The final count relates to real estate sale. According to state law, counties may sell real estate properties, but only after receiving a certified appraisal for market value, and the appraisal must be accepted by the county commissioners. However, a letter dated from Aug. 9, 2011, from Inskeep Appraisal to Schieber indicated there had only been a “drive-by” appraisal of the property, and that it was not a certified appraisal, court records show.
About Aug. 22, 2011, commissioners voted to solicit bids for the sale of the property, with the bid opening Sept. 6, all without the certified appraisal, court records show.
Schieber was found guilty of all charges except count seven, selling county property without a certified appraisal.
Charge five has a punishment of nine months in the Kay County Detention Center, along with a $500 fine, while the remaining charges have a punishment of six months in the Kay County Detention Center and a $500 fine. Sentencing will be held March 6.