Article 3: Dec. 9, 2021
Department’s two most prolific officers no longer there
By Chris Willingham
Second of a series
The two most prolific investigators of the last five years are no longer employed at the sheriff’s department, one having resigned after being demoted to patrolman and the other having been fired Tuesday.
Longtime investigator Devin Black was fired Tuesday morning by undersheriff Larry Hendrix, and narcotics investigator John Jones resigned last week after being demoted from investigator to patrolman.
When the first article in this series was published, sources within the sheriff’s department told this newspaper that sheriff Kevin Clardy, Hendrix and Captain Alicia Manning began an investigation as to who was talking to the newspaper.
“Anybody who talks to Chris is fired,” Clardy said following an interview with reporter Chris Willingham, according to sources.
Manning reportedly threatened to get search warrants for all deputies’ cell phones to see who was talking to the paper.
This newspaper received information last week that Clardy, Hendrix and Manning were attempting to get a search warrant to seize Willingham’s cell phone to identify his sources. The newspaper quickly contacted its media attorney and the Oklahoma Press Association, who both gave advice.
Most sheriff’s department employees were reportedly questioned following the first article, as to who was talking to the paper and all were told they could not talk to Willingham at all.
The firing of Black and resignation of Jones leaves a massive hole in criminal investigations for the county.
Both have not only filed more cases than any other officer over the last five years, they have also solved monumental cases and in Jones’ case, made the largest drug busts in county history.
On Dec. 1, Jones was told he was being demoted from narcotics investigator to patrolman. No reason was given for the demotion.
He resigned the following day and is now working for a district attorney’s office in another state.
On Tuesday morning, Hendrix called Black and told him that Clardy was firing him, effective immediately. Hendrix told Black to turn in his patrol unit and clean his office out quickly.
The day prior to being fired, Black solved the theft of $80,000 of Brinkley Auction tractors.
Black located the tractors in New Jersey, where they were set to be loaded on a container ship bound for the Dominican Republic.
On Nov. 8, Black solved multiple burglaries in Idabel and Hochatown and recovered nearly $1 Million in tractors, skid steers and other large equipment.
Other notable large cases that Black investigated include the murder of Roxy Faizy, whose body was found in a creek, having been weighed down with a logging chain two months after she went missing.
Black combed through thousands of pages of Google location cell phone data from Faizy’s fiance’s phone, which is what led to a murder charge against Brian McMahon in 2019.
In May of 2020, Black investigated two men shooting a 17-year-old teen on Mountain Fork River. Black and other officers worked overnight without sleep, identified three suspects and got the OHP SWAT and sniper team to serve the warrant and arrest all three.
According to ODCR.com, Black has filed more than 600 cases in the county, including numerous robberies, embezzlements, burglaries and homicides.
In June, Black began working patrol because the sheriff’s department was understaffed, in addition to his regular duties as investigator and sex offender registry compliance officer.
In his time at the sheriff’s department, Jones made the largest drug seizures in county history and filed more drug trafficking cases than any other officer in county history.
Constantly going after larger-scale drug dealers, Jones grew his investigations so big they eventually focused on the Sinaloa Mexican Drug Cartel, which he showed is operating within the county.
He was a granted a federal wiretap in the cartel case, which led to drug charges against 19 people and federal indictments.
He also developed strong working relationships with officers in the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In just this year alone Jones has seized 14 pounds of meth, a half-pound of heroin, 800 ecstasy pills, a pound of cocaine, $100,000 cash, nine vehicles, at least 30 guns, conducted more than 20 residential search warrants and filed more than 30 drug trafficking cases. Jones has filed nearly 400 cases in his time at the sheriff’s department.
Deputies were also told last week that they could not be friends with or even speak to former undersheriff Ken Jennings and former deputy Curtis Fields. Both were fired from their jobs as jailers last week shortly after Hendrix was named temporary jail administrator.
Privately, several officers, both current and former, have begun calling for Clardy to be removed from office.
They cite three separate grounds for removal, based on state statutes for that procedure.
They say Clardy has demonstrated habitual or willful neglect of duty, had willful maladministration in office and shown gross partiality in office to Manning.
Manning, 45, was promoted extremely quickly at the sheriff’s department with no prior law enforcement experience. She is currently captain of all officers, a promotion she received in September.
She joined the sheriff’s reserve deputy academy in 2017 and became CLEET certified in 2019. She currently has the third highest position at the sheriff’s office, under Clardy and Hendrix.
Many officers note that she has not had a single day of patrol experience, having been initially hired as an investigator after graduating the reserve academy.
More than a dozen sources have accused Clardy and Manning of having an affair for the past several years. Some have witnessed Clardy and Manning leaving Clardy’s office, looking disheveled and with sweat on their foreheads.
When asked if he and Manning were having sex, Clardy adamantly denied it, saying they were just good friends.
He said he and Hendrix were also good friends, but he is not having sex with Hendrix, either.