Monday, November 28, 2016

Oklahoma Legislator, Randy Terrill; Found Guilty of Political Bribery

Former Speaker, Randy Terrill
  Rep., Randy Terrill was convicted in 2013 after prosecutors said he offered a bribe to Leftwich, a Democrat, to withdraw from her race for Senate so Terrill’s friend, Rep. Mike Christian, could seek the office.

  Terrill was sentenced to 1 year in prison and required to $5,000 fine.

  Leftwich was found guilty of soliciting a bribe during a bench trial — the judge found her guilty instead of a jury — and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered never to seek a job with the state or run for public office again.
Former Sen. Debbe Leftwich

  Prosecutors said Terrill pushed officials with the state Medical Examiner’s Office to create an $80,000 per year position for Leftwich.

  The court rejected Terrill’s claim that a candidate for office cannot withdraw from office without filing a notice of withdrawal with the proper election board.

  “Taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, any rational trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Terrill bribed Leftwich by offering her a thing of value which caused her to withdraw from her reelection race,” Smith wrote.

  Terrill, from Moore, served in the state House from 2004 to 2012. Leftwich, of Oklahoma City, was a member of the Oklahoma Senate from 2003 until 2010.

  Both Leftwich and Terrill had appealed the District Court’s ruling, claiming that Leftwich was never a candidate for office, because she had not filed for re-election with the state Election Board. Records showed, however, that Leftwich had begun to raise money for a reelection campaign.
  Writing for the majority, Presiding Judge Clancy Smith said the law and evidence from the bribery and corruption trial of former state Rep. Randy Terrill did not require relief.

  The court, in a separate opinion, also turned back an appeal by former state Senator Debbe Leftwich.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Gene Stipes Machine Crumbles

Code Of Silence

  In the first decade of the new millennia, an old political machine crumbled under the weight of it's own corruption.  The following is a summary of the Daily Oklahoman's reporting from the Muskogee Federal Courthouse.

Read the full coverage at the Daily Oklahoman.

MUSKOGEE — Mike Mass, once an influential state representative and a past chairman of the state Democratic Party, became Wednesday the latest crooked Oklahoma politician to be sentenced to prison.

Ex-state Rep. Mike Mass, has written a book about his turbulent years in power and disgrace.

  A judge ordered Mass to spend two years in federal prison for taking kickbacks to divert taxpayer money to a gaming machine company and a dog food manufacturing company. A prosecutor said Mass, 57, of Wilburton, has a gambling addiction and left his family destitute. The judge ordered Mass to get treatment, if necessary, and to stay out of casinos while on supervision after his release.

  Businessman Steve Phipps was sentenced Wednesday to one year and one day in federal prison for paying kickbacks to Mass and two other legislators. Phipps’ companies illegally received almost $2.8 million and he agreed to pay legislators 10 percent in kickbacks. Both Mass and Phipps had faced up to five years in prison.
  U.S. District Judge Ronald White showed leniency to Phipps for his "extraordinary” cooperation in an ongoing federal probe of political corruption. The judge said the corrupt things Phipps testified about doing "made my skin crawl.” Phipps said, "I am ashamed of my conduct. I have tarnished the political process ... I have tried to make amends.”
  The judge ordered Phipps and Mass to together pay $279,258 in restitution to the state of Oklahoma. Phipps, 54, of Kiowa also must pay a $50,000 fine.
  Phipps’ supporters included Oklahoma country singer Reba McEntire. The two were classmates in Kiowa schools, beginning in the first grade. "It is not often that people admit their mistakes. It is less often they do something to rectify the problem. Steve Phipps will always be my friend,” she wrote the judge May 17.
Testimony key in federal case
  Phipps pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2007, admitting then he paid kickbacks to three legislators. He also has admitted other wrongdoing, including using straw donors to give excessive contributions to the state auditor’s race and to other campaigns. He was not charged further under a plea agreement with prosecutors that required him to cooperate.
  Phipps’ testimony was considered crucial to the conviction of former state Auditor Jeff McMahan. His cooperation also led to criminal and civil proceedings against former state Sen. Gene Stipe and a guilty plea in a criminal case against Stipe’s younger brother, Francis.

"Prince of Darkness,”

  In court papers, Phipps’ attorney described him as a business partner and protege of the "Prince of Darkness,” Gene Stipe. The defense attorney wrote Phipps refused to become one of Stipe’s "fall guys.” Prosecutors said Phipps is one of the few individuals from southeast Oklahoma "who has had the wherewithal to break an apparent ‘code of silence.’” Mass also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2007. Randall Erwin, a second former state representative implicated in the kickback plot, was acquitted at trial in April. Jerry Hefner, the third former state representative allegedly involved, was never charged. Prosecutors would not comment Wednesday about Hefner. Prosecutors said Mass "received the bulk of the $279,258 in kickbacks paid for financial favoritism.”

The judge also showed leniency to Phipps because he suffers from a rare medical condition that would be difficult for prison officials to treat long. A urologist reported Phipps might not survive prison. The judge also said he was concerned Phipps’ companies would fail and his employees lose their jobs if he was in prison for long.
After the sentencing, Phipps’ attorney, Dan Webber, said, "Steve is a strong person. I believe he will get through it. He and his wife will do whatever it takes to keep those businesses open.”  Phipps sought probation and a fine.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Speaker McCarty and His 1960s Bribery Machine

Speaker JD McCarty
  A 1950s major scandal centered on the former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, J.D. McCarty. The speaker is normally a powerful figure, and McCarty was more so than usual because he happened to serve during the term of the state's first Republican governor, Henry Bellman, elected in 1962. McCarty, a skilled politician, emerged as a highly visible and dominant figure, leading Democrats against the Republican governor.
  Unfortunately for McCarty, he lost his reelection bid from his district in 1966, and the IRS descended upon him with tax evasion charges. His critics unkindly claimed that he failed to report his many bribes. In any event, he was convicted and sent to jail. Thus, in a few short years, leading state judges and the powerful former speaker had proven to be corrupt. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fallin's Scandalous Affair

Lt. Gov’s bodyguard quits amid allegations of affair

December 8, 1998 AP
Trooper Greg Allen
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma Highway Patrol bodyguard for Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin has resigned after admitting ”unprofessional conduct” amid allegations by her estranged husband that she had an affair with a bodyguard.

Mrs. Fallin, a Republican who was elected to a second term last month, filed for divorce last week. At a hearing, Fallin’s attorney raised an allegation about the lieutenant governor having an affair with an unidentified bodyguard.

In a statement Monday, Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks said rumors surfaced in early September about ”alleged unprofessional conduct between a member of the executive security detail and the lieutenant governor.”

The statement said the trooper first denied the allegations, but was again questioned late last month and ”admitted to unprofessional conduct and was permitted to resign. That resignation was accepted last week. His admission did not indicate that sexual activity was involved.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leo Winters: State Treasurer And Banking Secrets

  In 1974 A federal grand jury indicted Winters, for, among other things, of using his position to extort campaign money from banks. Winters was acquitted of four counts during a well publicized trial, and other counts later were dropped. A few weeks after that, he was re-elected. 
  Winters served five terms and was trying for a sixth when his 1986 campaign was doomed by allegations that a Tulsa bank may have written off millions in loans to him.

  In 1986, many Oklahoma banks were on the brink of default from a crash in the oil markets, worldwide. Yet State Treasure Winters, decided to deposit a massive amount of state funds into a non-interest bearing account in Liberty National Bank of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman reported:

Former Rep. Joe Manning of Cushing led the three-man field in the Republican primary and Rep. Bob Brown of Claremore finished second.

Manning, 39, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1974 to 1982 and now is business manager of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. In that job, Manning says, he invests and manages the foundation's assets.

Brown, 49, became the first Republican elected to the House from District 9 in Rogers County, in 1984. He is financial vice president and treasurer of Keck Construction Inc., a Tulsa-based earth-moving and paving company.

With Winters still in the race at the time, Brown campaigned in the primary on a platform that "it's time to remove the secrecy surrounding this important office."

Brown said he had been turned down when he tried to look at records in Winters' office this spring. He said the records on where state funds were deposited were opened to him after he and another Republican legislator threatened to file a lawsuit against Winters.

Those records showed Winters had $130 million in state funds on deposit at Liberty National Bank in Oklahoma City in a non-interest bearing account, Brown said.
"Oklahomans can no longer afford for their hard-earned tax dollars to sit idle in non-interest bearing accounts," Brown said.

  The state treasurer had about $108 million in state funds on deposit with the Tulsa bank in the mid-1970s at a time that he and his associates had about $18 million in loans from the same bank.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Insurance Commissioner Shakes Down Citizens For Free Furniture

The Tulsa World said;
Free furniture: In 2007, Carroll Fisher, former state insurance commissioner, started serving a three-year prison term after he was caught depositing a $1,000 campaign contribution from his state campaign funds into his personal bank account when it was overdrawn in 2003. Fisher was reprimanded by the State Ethics Commission for soliciting office furniture from those he regulated. The governor said that Fisher could not keep more than $33,000 worth of furniture, artwork and kitchen equipment he had sought as "gifts to the state." 

 The Oklahoman followed up with..
 Carroll Fisher was then sentenced in 2009, in a bribery case, to six months in a private lock-down facility in Tulsa.
Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson spared Fisher, 69, from more time in state prison. Defense attorneys argued the former official already has been punished and humiliated enough.
"This is a man who has been very much humbled by what he’s experienced,” defense attorney Bob Wyatt said.