Throughout this report direct quotes from
various sources will be presented in Bold.
Editorial commentary of the Editor of Bubbaworld will appear in Italic.
The Paper Caper occurred in Grove,
Oklahoma on the 2nd of March, 1996.
It involved a relatively minor criminal offense and one that should have been handled in a straightforward and above-board manner by both the police and the courts.
As is so often the case in Delaware County, justice got side tracked in the rush to "make the problem go away".
As a result, justice was never served, the victim of the crime was never made whole and what little respect for the law previously existing in Delaware County was further diminished amidst allegations of both prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.
Throughout the following pages we will take you back in time for a fascinating glimpse at Oklahoma's Junk Justice system in action. This is a story of one of "the little people" trying to do the right thing, against all odds and ultimately in a terribly flawed justice system.
Terry Hembree of Grove, Oklahoma owns and operates the Grand Lake Visitor Magazine , a monthly periodical promoting both The Grand Lake O' The Cherokees and businesses in the area. Throughout its history the magazine has been distributed free of charge at stores and other businesses throughout the Grand Lake and the four state areas. The publication which contains both feature articles and event happenings of interest to both locals as well as visitors and weekenders generates revenue by selling advertising to area businesses and relies upon its free distribution system to get its ads before its target audience.
With the March, 1996 issue, the Grand Lake Visitor was
celebrating its fifth anniversary.
It was also the issue in which Mr. Hembree decided to publish a paid editorial, one highly critical of the Grove Public Schools and their administration.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hembree the "fallout" of publishing that editorial would ultimately take him through the looking glass into an Oz like world where left is up, right is down and justice is apparently only a myth.
According to Mr. Hembree, "the editorial" was a
combined effort between himself and thirty eight parents of
children attending Grove Public Schools.
It was published in an effort to air their shared concerns over the conditions in the Grove Public Schools and the actions of the school system administration. Concerns previously expressed to both the school administration and school board to no avail.
With Mr. Hembree's permission we have made the editorial available in two formats, a transcribed text/HTML format version and a "scanned" version. We encourage Bubbaworld readers to examine at least one of the versions we have available. We promise it will be time well spent.
The Text/HTML Version is
compatible with any browser and window size.
The Scanned Version requires a browser/window width of at least 850 pixels.
Clicking on either link above will open the specified version
in a new browser window.
To return here simply close the new browser window.
The crux of the editorial is a long shopping list of grievances. Grievances alleging secret meetings, favoritism, gross misconduct on the part of teachers and administrators; including recommending to students that they drop out of school and seek a GED, placing sports interests over academic interests, "black balling" of students and boycotts of businesses owned by parents that complained, deficit spending, misapplication of district funds and a host of other offenses, any one of which if proven true would be justification for a major "house cleaning" in the Grove Public Schools System.
Granted, on the surface the editorial itself appears somewhat "amateurish" in that it contains errors in spelling, grammar and layout. In considering the editorial and its implications one should keep in mind that Mr. Hembree is not a newspaper editor. He is a magazine publisher and a promoter of businesses in the area. Likewise the frustrations and concerns of the parents involved were conveyed to Mr. Hembree in a highly emotional manner. Evidently he composed the editorial in that same manner. The fears, frustrations and anger shared by Mr. Hembree and his fellow concerned citizens are literally dripping from the columns of the editorial and for good reason.
Maybe that's why the reaction to the editorial was so swift and so outlandish.
On Saturday morning, March 2, 1996 two major events, both related to the Grove school system, took place.
The main event of the day was a scheduled "Good Ole'
Boy Breakfast" to be held in in the Grove Community Building
in support of school board member Jerry Crossley, presumably a
"Good Ole' Boy". At least in the eyes of some Grove
residents. Reportedly a group of Grove school teachers rented the
Community Building and sponsored the benefit in order to raise
funds for Mr. Crossley's attorney's fees.
Crossley was facing a legal effort to oust him from the school board on a claim that he was not legally qualified to hold the position owing to the lack of a legitimate high school diploma. For reference see: (1) , (2) and (3).
The second event of the day involved the large scale disappearance of the March 1996 edition of the "Grand Lake Visitor Magazine" from racks throughout the area.
During the morning of March 2, 1996 Terry Hembree received a telephone call informing him that two women were seen removing all copies of the magazine from racks throughout the Grove vicinity and that the women intended to destroy them. As Mr. Hembree checked various locations where his magazine was distributed in Grove, he was informed that the magazines were taken by two Grove school teachers Martha "Marty" Hamilton and Claudia Pollan. Martha Hamilton is the wife of Grove Principal Zach Hamilton and Claudia Pollan is the wife of Grove Athletic Director Roy Pollan.
Later in the day, Mr. Hembree learned that a third person, Janet Bohannan, had taken all the magazines from at least one rack.
As the events of the day played out it became apparent that many of the missing copies of the "Grand Lake Visitor" managed to find their way to the "Good Ole' Boy Breakfast", while still thousands more, according to Mr. Hembree's estimate, simply "went missing" never to be seen again. The initial estimate of the total number of copies lost was 3,500. Mr. Hembree's printing cost at the time was $1.50 per copy, a substantial loss by anyone's standards.
As March 2, 1996 drew to a close Martha Hamilton and Claudia Pollan reportedly called Grove Police Chief Gayle Wells at home expressing concern that they had done wrong by "stealing" the free magazines. Grove Police Department records reveal that Chief Wells instructed them to gather all copies of the "Grand Lake Visitor Magazine" they had and to bring them to the Grove police department. According to official police department reports, slightly after 11:00 pm, Hamilton and Pollan arrived with several trash bags, paper sacks and boxes full of the magazines.
The recovered copies of the "Grand Lake Visitor" were counted and stacked against a wall in the Grove Police Department. News media reports at the time indicated between 800 and 900 copies were turned in at the Grove PD by Hamilton and Pollan. Later it was established that 866 copies were recovered. Both Grove PD Officer Tom Shull and Mr. Hembree were photographed kneeling next to the stack of recovered magazines. The photograph of Officer Shull appeared in the local news media. What is most striking in reviewing the two photos is that the stack of recovered magazines represents only one-third to one-fourth of the total number of copies that "went missing". Prior to the recovery of the 866 magazines, not a single copy of the "Grand Lake Visitor Magazine" could be found at any of its distribution locations in Grove, Oklahoma. One can only imagine the volume and weight of the entire "haul" and time and effort required to drive about town, collect and load that many copies of the magazine. For reference see: (4)
As the investigation into The Paper Caper began, three suspects were named as being responsible, Martha Hamilton, Claudia Pollan and Janet Bohannan.
Ultimately only two of the suspects were charged with a crime, Hamilton and Pollan. For reasons unknown Janet Bohannan was not charged. At the time of The Paper Caper her brother, Jerry Bohannan, was a detective with the Grove Police Department and as such was involved in the investigation of the case. It was also reported in local news media that Jerry Bohannan, in addition to being a Grove police officer, worked as a part-time teacher with the Grove schools.
To help our readers better understand this case and to prove our bonafides we are making available a redacted copy of the Grove Police Department report detailing The Paper Caper. As a courtesy we have concealed all witness identity information. We have also concealed address, phone number, SSN and vehicle tag and VIN numbers as a courtesy to the accused. For reference see: (5)
With the arrest of the alleged thieves, the recovery of at least some of the missing copies of the "Grand Lake Visitor" and an apparent end to vandalism one might think that Mr. Hembree's problems were concluded.
If only that were only the case...
Be sure and watch for The Paper Caper - Part 2, coming to Bubbaworld in the very new future. In Part 2 we will take you through the Looking Glass and into the most back-assward and upside-down world of small town politics and legal skullduggery a person might conjure up in their wildest dreams. Unfortunately for Mr. Hembree, it was all too real and still haunts the Hembree family today.
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