The lawyer for Oklahoma’s Department of Health, Julie Ezell, was forced to resign July 13 after she was caught sending fake email threats to herself, Tulsa World reported on Tuesday. The emails, which Ezell reported to state investigators, were allegedly sent from opponents of the state’s recently passed medical marijuana regulations, but when investigators got a hold of Ezell’s phone they discovered that she had sent the messages herself.
The former government councilor now faces felony criminal charges for falsely reporting threats to her wellbeing to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), which released a statement saying that the bureau had taken the threats seriously and invested significant resources into the case.
“During the investigation, nine OSBI agents, three officers with Edmond Police Department and two officers with OU Health Science Center were dispatched to work the case and to ensure Ezell’s safety to and from work and home,” the OSBI said.
Two hours before she resigned from her position, Ezell confessed to the OSBI that she was the one who had sent the threatening messages. A search of her phone on July 12 found that she had created the account [email protected] on ProtonMail, an encrypted email service, and also searched Reddit to find out if her IP address could be traced after she sent the emails.
Tulsa World, which had obtained the emails, revealed some of the threatening material in their report.
One message read, “We will expose your corruption and evil. We would hate to hurt a pretty lady. You will hear us. We are just beginning.”
Oklahoma voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis in a statewide vote in June. The measure, which passed by 56 percent, enacted a loosely regulated system which allows doctors to determine which conditions qualify a patient for medical cannabis and allows for medical license holders to grow their own marijuana at home.
With the legislature out of session for the year, the Department of Health passed emergency regulations on July 10th which, among other restrictions, demanded that dispensaries hire pharmacists and banned the sale of smokable marijuana at retail locations.
Immediately after the new regulations were passed, reports surfaced that Ezell had warned the Department of Health that they could face legal challenges for the restrictions they had imposed. According to a report from the Associated Press, her disagreement with the department over these regulations was the reason Ezell resigned. But texts that she sent as the regulations were being considered revealed the real reason she left.
“Fuck, text me when you are up,” read a text from Ezell to an unnamed person, according to court records. “I just got a pretty threatening email about medical marijuana.”
As the department was considering these regulations, Ezell was sending emails to herself containing her address and warning. “You won’t be able to ignore us today. Check yourself.”
She now faces two felony charges and a misdemeanor charge.