A former longtime Muskogee prosecutor is looking forward to continuing his public service as part of the District 27 prosecutorial team.

John David Luton, 48, officially becomes an assistant district attorney in Cherokee County Aug. 13. Luton said Friday his prosecutorial career has included everything from a six-week long capital murder case to representing county commissioners in lawsuits.

Luton is, perhaps, best known for the time he served in the Muskogee DA’s office. That included nearly 15 years as the district attorney, a post he lost to current DA Larry Moore.

“I’ve known Jerry [Moore] for several years and I’m very excited about coming to work in Cherokee County,” Luton said in a phone interview. “He has a lot of character and integrity.”

Luton also took some time to speak about a state audit report that says his office shredded thousands of files needed to prosecute cases. State Auditor Jeff McMahan told reporters it appeared the act was deliberate and one that was done within two weeks of (Larry) Moore taking office.

Luton, who’s been a Tulsa assistant DA since January, said the Muskogee DA’s office had 33 employees in three separate locations when he left office. Each employee had a computer terminal. He said he never checked the history of the office computers at the end of the day to see whether files were deleted or what files had been deleted.

“They’re [state auditors] not talking about physical files and someone running paper through a shredder,” he explained. “It’s my understanding what they’re talking about is dumping computer files.”

The computer forensic division of the state auditor’s office was able to recreate files that show an office computer in the main office contained files with names like Date a Hottie or SexOnline along with a variety of gambling locations.

“Obviously, I had no knowledge any of my employees were getting on sites like that,” he said. “If I’d known about it, they wouldn’t have been there.”

Again, Luton said he never went around at the end of each day to check computers to review viewing history.

“Each one of the computers has a “log on” and a “log off” password,” Luton said. “I didn’t have any of the individual passwords.”

The audit also referred to more than $88,000 collected in restitution to victims that was in a bank account that not been paid to victims it was intended to help.

“We were dealing with literally thousands of felony cases each year,” Luton said. “We’d file 1,000 to 1,200 new cases a year and there were several open [pending] at one time.”

He said it wasn’t unusual for cases to remain open for long periods of time. During that time, victims may have moved or we may have lost a good address.

District Attorney Jerry Moore said he was pleased to be able to get someone with Luton’s experience. He said he’s known Luton for several years and he knows him to be a well-seasoned, experienced prosecutor.

“He’s a good attorney and a good man,” Moore said of Luton. “Tulsa’s loss is our gain.”

Luton was born in Muskogee and graduated from Muskogee High School in 1977. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration Management at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated from law school at Oklahoma City University in 1985 and worked for a year and a half for the state insurance fund defending worker compensation cases.

He went to work for former Muskogee DA Drew Edmondson on Dec. 29, 1986 and served as an assistant DA until Edmondson left office to run for Congress. He was district attorney from April 1, 1992 until this year.

Luton, a former Oklahoma District Attorneys Association president, will leave the Tulsa DA’s office Aug. 10. He has also served on several other boards and organizations. He is a lifetime member of the First Methodist Church in Muskogee. He and his wife Roberta, have three children; Josh, 20, Molly, 18, and Ben, 15.

The new job will also allow Luton to work closely with Assistant District Attorney David Pierce, who was Luton’s top assistant in Muskogee County.

“We’re very good friends,” Luton said of Pierce. “He’s a wonderful person and a wonderful prosecutor and I really look forward to working with him again.”

Contact Bob Gibbins at bgibbins@tahlequahdailypress.com.

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