A recently resigned Tulsa police officer, branded by a prosecutor as "corrupt," was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison for robbing Hispanic drivers during traffic stops.
At a nonjury trial, a Tulsa County judge found Marvin Blades Jr., 38, guilty of five counts of robbery with a firearm.
District Judge Tom Gillert then imposed a split 70-year sentence that calls for Blades to serve 35 years on probation upon completing a 35-year prison term.
Gillert indicated that the prison portion of the sentence has an "85 percent" requirement, meaning Blades will have to serve almost 30 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.
Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said he is "proud of how the system worked." Tulsa police detectives conducted a "thorough investigation" in a case against a member of their own department, he said.
"There is no place in this community for corrupt police officers," Drummond said in an emailed statement.
Blades did not testify at the bench trial.
Defense attorney James Linger said the outcome will be appealed to the state Court of Criminal Appeals.
Linger has maintained that the charge of robbery with a firearm did not apply based on the facts and evidence. He also argued that in two of the counts, not-guilty verdicts should be returned because of identification issues.
Gillert said that based on the evidence, the police officer who made the traffic stops is "obviously him."
The robbery counts involved accusations that Blades -- while on duty and driving his patrol car, dressed in his police uniform and with a gun in his holster -- pulled over Hispanic drivers, ordered them to hand over their wallets, and stole money from them before returning the wallets.
In court Wednesday, a witness described the undercover sting operation that led to charges against Blades.
Jesse Diaz testified that Blades took $600 from him during a traffic stop in August 2012 while Diaz was working as an Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control agent.
Diaz said he was undercover and portraying an "immigrant worker" who didn't speak English and who had been drinking when he was pulled over by Blades in the 2800 block of North Lewis Avenue.
As part of the sting operation, he had been provided with a wallet that contained $1,040, including six $100 bills, Diaz said.
He said Blades instructed him to leave the wallet in his vehicle and walk to the area of Blades' patrol car.
Blades leaned into Diaz's vehicle and subsequently gave Diaz the wallet back and allowed him to leave, and Diaz discovered that the six $100 bills were missing, according to testimony.
Blades was arrested early the next morning while in possession of the $100 bills, whose serial numbers had been logged by police.
The other robbery counts pertain to four victims who have said money was taken from them in traffic stops between August 2011 and June 2012.
Linger has said there is no evidence that any gun was brandished or verbal threats were made during the traffic stops.
But Drummond said the evidence still supported the charge of robbery with a firearm.
Blades, who waived his right to a jury trial, was free on bond until Wednesday, when Gillert ordered him placed in custody after hearing the testimony.
Blades submitted his resignation from the Tulsa Police Department this week. He had been on administrative leave without pay.
"It was important to prosecute Mr. Blades to illustrate what happens when you decide to become a rogue police officer who cares about no one," Drummond said.
Copyright 2013 - Tulsa World, Okla.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service