- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A judge on Friday ordered the release of a man who spent 17 years in federal prison for a drug manufacturing conviction, ruling that the investigation that led to his conviction was “unreliable.”

U.S. District Judge James Payne handed down the decision in the case of Jeffrey Dan Williams, 53, who was convicted in 1997 of methamphetamine possession and firearm charges and sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison, the Tulsa World reported (http://bit.ly/1gHCm0X ).

Williams initially pleaded innocent, later changed his plea to guilty and has since tried to change it back, saying he was coerced. Williams‘ conviction was the focus of a series of federal court hearings in May 2012 that followed a police corruption scandal in Tulsa.

Witnesses recanted past claims used in Williams‘ conviction, and the judge ruled the testimony of convicted former police officers and federal agents was unreliable. Testimony also included previously unheard allegations against convicted Tulsa police officers, including an account of a plan to rob a police evidence van of drugs and money.

In his decision, Payne wrote that he found “the scheme to manufacture evidence was deliberately planned, carefully executed and intended to defraud this court, and in fact, this court did rely upon the fraudulently manufactured evidence in order to convict and sentence Williams.”

At least 49 people, including Williams, have been freed from prison or had their cases modified because of civil rights violations or potential problems with their cases stemming from police corruption.

The police corruption has resulted in nearly 20 lawsuits against the city, none of which has made it to trial.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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