Deputy presence in Oklahoma has cost $9,300

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The cost of maintaining a law enforcement presence in Oklahoma as the custody battle over 3-year-old Veronica continues has cost more than $9,300, according to information released by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

In late August, when a pair of deputies and a State Law Enforcement Division agent left for Tulsa, they were on their way to pick up Dusten Brown, Veronica's birth father, with a custodial interference warrant in hand.

Now two weeks later, what appeared to be a quick arrest has been anything but quick.

Brown, with the help of a team of attorneys, has been able to move in and out of police custody twice in recent weeks, spending a total of two hours in custody -- none of that time was in the custody of Charleston County deputies.

The result has been a long trip for Deputies Rita Zelinsky and John Nice and SLED agent Marion Baker that is starting to add up quite a tab.

Records show that airfare cost $2,500 to get the three law enforcement agents to Oklahoma, but lodging them in hotels has cost $200 more. The rental car the three are using has cost almost $1,300 so far and the three have racked up just over $1,000 in overtime since heading to Oklahoma.

Meals have also been costly for the three who do not have kitchens to prepare their own meals. So far, the three have spent almost $900 on food, which sheriff's office officials point out is the standard per-diem for out-of-state travel. Records show that there are other expenditures for holiday pay, gas, airport parking in Charleston, and baggage check fees.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Baby Veronica Story

For people who have questioned Sheriff Al Cannon's decision to send deputies to Oklahoma, the question turns to finding out when the custody battle will end. That question is a little harder to answer.

Brown has filed a second appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, asking the state's highest court to block a lower court's decision to grant full custody to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the James Island couple who have been trying to finalize their adoption of Veronica since her birth in 2009.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has since asked for and received a certified copy of the finalized adoption paperwork from a Charleston County family court.

Online court records in the second appeal were briefly available for view after the filing, but have since been locked and neither side is talking about any new developments in the custody battle due to a gag order.

Adding to the ordeal is a United Nations official who focuses on the rights of indigenous people calling for officials at the federal, state and tribal levels to consider Veronica's rights as they hash out what's to come of her life.

James Anaya{}is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. He says in a statement released Tuesday that authorities should consider Veronica's rights to maintain her "cultural identity" as a member of the Cherokee{}Nation.

Veronica's father,{}Dusten Brown, has been fighting for custody of the girl with a South Carolina couple who adopted{}her.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled than Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, can't use a federal law meant to keep Native American tribes together to press his{}case.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.