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The Morning Brew: Pharmacy board head allegedly offered official a job to sway medical marijuana rules

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It's Friday! Here are a few headlines to start the day:

Pharmacy board head allegedly offered official a job to sway medical marijuana rules

Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman]
Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman]

Text messages published Thursday by the journalism website NonDoc appeared to show Chelsea Church, director of the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy, offering Julie Ezell, the former general counsel at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, a job if she wrote a rule requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to hire pharmacists.

NonDoc reported:

Church discussed the job with Ezell late Saturday, July 7, as Ezell prepared the OSDH’s final draft of rules for release the next day. The conversation was documented in a series of text messages obtained by NonDoc. Ezell declined to comment about the text exchange but said the conversation was accurate and that the screenshots were from her phone.

Using both her state and private cell phones, Church repeatedly begged Ezell to require the presence of a licensed pharmacist at medical marijuana dispensaries. Ezell’s final draft of rules, released hours later, did not include the pharmacist proposal, but the Board of Health amended the rules two days later to implement the mandate.

Ezell, 37, resigned as general counsel July 13. She was charged Tuesday after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation determined she sent threatening emails to herself. Ezell reportedly posed as a medical marijuana advocate who threatened retribution if the Health Department imposed restrictive rules on its use. 

Her lawyer said Thursday that attempted bribes and pressure from heads of other state agencies had taken a toll on Ezell.

The Oklahoman's Meg Wingerter reported:

It wasn’t clear from the messages if Church meant to offer a quid pro quo, but (Ezell's attorney, Ed Blau) said Ezell took the messages seriously.

“It’s pretty clear that she had the director of another agency offering her what amounted to a bribe,” he said, adding that other agency heads whom he declined to name also were pressuring Ezell at the time. “She basically was offered a position that was not in the spotlight that she was in, for a lot more money.”

Church didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Brace for more heat

Michael McNanus, 7, screams as water pours down his back Thursday at the Myriad Botanical Gardens kids area fountain in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Anya Magnuson/The Oklahoman]
Michael McNanus, 7, screams as water pours down his back Thursday at the Myriad Botanical Gardens kids area fountain in Oklahoma City. [Photo by Anya Magnuson/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City had its first triple-digit temperatures of the year Thursday, and much of central and western Oklahoma will be under either a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning Friday afternoon and evening. 

By 3:45 p.m. Thursday, paramedics had responded to seven heat-related calls, the Emergency Medical Services Authority reported. Heat index values could soar to 115 degrees in some areas Friday afternoon, forecasters predicted. 

CEO gives car to college student who walked nearly 20 miles to work

Alabama college student Walter Carr reacts after being given a new car by Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin on Monday. Carr, whose car broke down just before his first day of work, made the 20-mile journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame and a new car. [Photo by Carol Robinson, The Birmingham News via AP]
Alabama college student Walter Carr reacts after being given a new car by Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin on Monday. Carr, whose car broke down just before his first day of work, made the 20-mile journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame and a new car. [Photo by Carol Robinson, The Birmingham News via AP]

Here's a heart-warming story to end the work week. 

The night before Walter Carr's first day of work, his car broke down.

So Carr, 20, a college student from Alabama, decided to walk the 20-mile trek for his first day with Bellhops moving company, USA Today reported.

He started walking around midnight. About four hours later, he had made it about 14 miles to Pelham, Ala. Police officers there stopped him on the side of the road. When they heard his story, the officers took Carr for breakfast and dropped him off at a church, promising to send someone to check on him.

Another officer pulled up to check on Carr when he had less than four miles to go. That officer drove Carr the rest of the way to the home of the person Carr was scheduled to help move. 

The homeowner was so impressed, she shared Carr's story on Facebook. The post went viral, attracting the attention of Luke Marklin, the CEO of Bellhops. To show his gratitude, Marklin gave Carr his personal Ford Escape.

Watch Carr's reaction here:


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Last sips





Related Photos
Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, 2018,  was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. Ezell, 37, confessed on Friday to creating a false email account and sending the threats to her government email, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent reported in an affidavit. The email account purported to be from a sender concerned about Health Department rules regarding medical marijuana. She was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in Oklahoma County District Court.  Ezell,  general counsel for the health department, explains proposed regulations to Department of Health Board members during  their monthly meeting onTuesday morning, July 10, 2018,  when they voted to ban sales of smokeable forms of medical marijuana and to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, 2018, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. Ezell, 37, confessed on Friday to creating a false email account and sending the threats to her government...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f040f17422522567448a2325ce754e84.jpg" alt="Photo - Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, 2018, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. Ezell, 37, confessed on Friday to creating a false email account and sending the threats to her government email, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent reported in an affidavit. The email account purported to be from a sender concerned about Health Department rules regarding medical marijuana. She was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in Oklahoma County District Court. Ezell, general counsel for the health department, explains proposed regulations to Department of Health Board members during their monthly meeting onTuesday morning, July 10, 2018, when they voted to ban sales of smokeable forms of medical marijuana and to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman" title="Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, 2018, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. Ezell, 37, confessed on Friday to creating a false email account and sending the threats to her government email, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent reported in an affidavit. The email account purported to be from a sender concerned about Health Department rules regarding medical marijuana. She was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in Oklahoma County District Court. Ezell, general counsel for the health department, explains proposed regulations to Department of Health Board members during their monthly meeting onTuesday morning, July 10, 2018, when they voted to ban sales of smokeable forms of medical marijuana and to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Julie Ezell, pictured here at a meeting on July 10, 2018, was accused Tuesday in a criminal charge of sending threats to herself, falsely reporting a crime and preparing false evidence. Ezell, 37, confessed on Friday to creating a false email account and sending the threats to her government email, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent reported in an affidavit. The email account purported to be from a sender concerned about Health Department rules regarding medical marijuana. She was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in Oklahoma County District Court. Ezell, general counsel for the health department, explains proposed regulations to Department of Health Board members during their monthly meeting onTuesday morning, July 10, 2018, when they voted to ban sales of smokeable forms of medical marijuana and to require dispensaries to hire a pharmacist. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-980616ab68d30e38389776113262f2a9.jpg" alt="Photo - Alabama college student Walter Carr reacts after being given a new car by Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin in Pelham, N.H., Monday, July 16, 2018. Carr whose car broke down just before his first day of work made the 20-mile (32-kilometer) journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame — and a new car. (Carol Robinson/The Birmingham News via AP)" title="Alabama college student Walter Carr reacts after being given a new car by Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin in Pelham, N.H., Monday, July 16, 2018. Carr whose car broke down just before his first day of work made the 20-mile (32-kilometer) journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame — and a new car. (Carol Robinson/The Birmingham News via AP)"><figcaption>Alabama college student Walter Carr reacts after being given a new car by Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin in Pelham, N.H., Monday, July 16, 2018. Carr whose car broke down just before his first day of work made the 20-mile (32-kilometer) journey on foot, a feat that earned him fame — and a new car. (Carol Robinson/The Birmingham News via AP)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-37b6f2285f65c43c6ad681eb57eeeac2.jpg" alt="Photo - Michael McNanus, 7, screams as water pours down his back at the Myriad Botanical Gardens kids area fountain in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Photo by Anya Magnuson/The Oklahoman" title="Michael McNanus, 7, screams as water pours down his back at the Myriad Botanical Gardens kids area fountain in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Photo by Anya Magnuson/The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Michael McNanus, 7, screams as water pours down his back at the Myriad Botanical Gardens kids area fountain in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Photo by Anya Magnuson/The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Darla Slipke

Darla Slipke is an enterprise reporter for The Oklahoman. She is a native of Bristol, Conn., and a graduate of the University of Kansas. Slipke worked for newspapers in Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Oklahoma, including a previous... Read more ›

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