Investigator at Oklahoma Health Department disciplined for affair with supervisor who emailed fake threats to herself
The state Health Department has reprimanded an investigator for "an inappropriate relationship" with his supervisor and forced him to take a sharp pay cut, The Oklahoman has learned.
Matt Terry, 38, of Guthrie, went from making $72,750 a year to $65,000.
The disciplinary action is the latest twist in the controversy surrounding the development of regulations on medical marijuana.
The affair between Terry and his supervisor, general counsel Julie Ezell, was discovered after Ezell reported getting threatening emails about the regulations. Both are married.
Ezell, 37, of Edmond, resigned July 13 after admitting she created a fake email account and sent the threats herself.
She posed in the emails as a medical marijuana advocate who threatened retribution if the Health Department imposed restrictive rules on its use. "We would hate to hurt a pretty lady. You will hear us," one email said.
Ezell was charged July 17 in Oklahoma County District Court over the emails. She faces two felonies and a misdemeanor.
Terry was reprimanded on July 16 for violations of Health Department procedures.
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"It was discovered that you have been engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a supervisor in violation of OSDH procedure," the Health Department's chief operating officer, Kim Bailey, wrote.
He was instructed to follow "all laws, rules, policy, procedure and directives" and to "be respectful and professional" with his supervisors and others at work.
"You will attend all assigned trainings," he also was told.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation began investigating after Ezell reported getting the threatening emails. She notified Terry first and later said she liked getting extra attention from him, reports show.
She admitted to an agent that she and Terry had been having an extramarital affair since February, reports show. She insisted, though, that he was not involved in sending the faked threats and that she had acted alone.
Ezell had been general counsel since December.
Terry did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment left on his cellphone, office phone and in an email. He began working as a special investigator at the Health Department almost 10 years ago.
The Health Department on Monday released the reprimand letter and salary cut information after The Oklahoman made an Open Records Act request. The salary cut was effective Aug. 6.
The Open Records Act requires a state agency to release any final disciplinary action resulting in loss of pay.
Ezell's attorney, Ed Blau, on Tuesday said the Health Department released the written reprimand in violation of its own policy. Blau contended the law did not require release because Terry had taken a voluntary demotion after his position at the time was done away with.
Terry is now an investigator in the Health Department's office of safety and security.
"This is nothing more than an attempt by the Health Department to divert attention away from their grossly improper handling of the medical marijuana rules," Blau complained.
The attorney also said it "appears to be a disgusting attempt to discredit my client, whose aim was to stop the adoption of the illegal amendments and bring the misconduct and pressure from multiple parties to light."
The board that oversees the Health Department on July 10 added two unpopular amendments to the medical marijuana regulations, despite concerns raised by Ezell.
Those additions banned sales of smokable marijuana and required dispensaries to hire pharmacists. The Board of Health voted Aug. 1 to repeal those rules, after a public uproar.
The OSBI is now investigating whether the former executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacy Board illegally offered a job to Ezell if she would support having pharmacists in dispensaries.
Ezell is cooperating in that investigation.