A sergeant with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections canine division is on paid administrative leave after numerous charges were filed against him.
Tomas Munoz, 37, of McAlester, is accused of taking an electronic tablet from a contraband drop, having a loaded handgun in his vehicle on prison property, taking saddles, a trailer, and fencing that was the property of Oklahoma State Penitentiary, and using a retired police dog to perform a drug sniffing operation on a residence.
Munoz is charged with felony false preparation of exhibits or evidence, felony bringing contraband weapons into jail/penal institution, felony grand larceny, and misdemeanor prohibited acts, according to documents filed Friday by the District 18 District Attorney’s Office.
A court document shows Munoz appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to the charges before Pittsburg County Special District Judge Mindy Beare ordered his release on his own recognizance.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections Public Information Manager Matt Elliot said Munoz was placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.
Investigators from the ODOC started investigating Munoz after a complaint was filed alleging he “had stolen several items of property from ODOC” that were located at his McAlester residence.
The complainant told investigators that Munoz had in his possession at his McAlester residence a trailer from the Jackie Brannon Correctional Center, two saddles, and a pair of hair shears that were property of the ODOC.
Documents state Munoz had an RCA tablet that he obtained from a contraband drop.
When asked by investigators, Munoz admitted he had authorization from his superiors to use the trailer to transport canine kennels, according to allegations in documents. But the superiors said no authorization was given to Munoz, the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, Munoz signed a “consent to search” that permitted ODOC investigators to access Munoz’s property to retrieve the trailer. During the search, investigators found two saddles with an ODOC stamp, which Munoz said he obtained at a yard sale, the affidavit states.
ODOC records obtained by the investigators showed the saddles were inventoried in 2017 and “remained the property” of ODOC and were not surplus, the affidavit states.
Munoz told investigators that he removed the RCA tablet from a contraband bust and “attempted to use the device for work related matters.”
He also admitted he had a loaded firearm inside his vehicle located on prison property and investigators found a loaded .45-caliber handgun “in plain view protruding from the armrest” of Munoz’s vehicle, the affidavit states.
Munoz admitted in a follow-up interview to using a retired ODOC canine officer named Roxy to conduct a law enforcement activity for the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office in 2016.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris told ODOC investigators that he requested the assistance of Munoz to search a residence for narcotics in Pittsburg County, the affidavit states. Morris said Munoz told him the canine had been retired by ODOC, according to the affidavit.
Morris told the News-Capital he was asked by the owner of the residence if the sheriff’s department had a drug dog that could search the residence after the owner kicked out a former tenant.
The sheriff said he contacted Munoz — who was a reserve deputy for Morris at the time — and told him that there wasn’t going to be any criminal charges filed after the search but that the owner just wanted to make sure no drugs were left in the residence.
The sheriff said Munoz told him that he had a retired dog that was his personal dog that he could use.
“He told me it was his personal dog and that’s all I knew,” said Morris. “It wasn’t an operation performed for the sheriff’s office, it was just, basically I called him for this other guy and I said ‘y’all work out the details between yourselves’ and I didn’t have anything to do with it other than that.”
Morris said Munoz is no longer a reserve deputy for him pending the results of the criminal case.
Contact Derrick James at email@example.com