10th Circuit Court upholds convictions of former Oklahoma auditor and inspector

Appellate judges cited examples of favors Jeff McMahan gave in return for bribes. The 23-page unanimous decision by a three-judge panel also affirmed his sentence to prison for eight years and one month.
BY ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ Modified: September 3, 2010 at 1:10 am •  Published: September 3, 2010
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— Appellate judges Thursday upheld the corruption convictions of former Oklahoma state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan and cited examples of favors he gave in return for bribes he took.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 23-page unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, also affirmed his sentence to prison for eight years and one month.

"The evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that McMahan accepted bribes from Phipps with the intent to allow his official action to be influenced," the judges wrote, referring to southeastern Oklahoma businessman Steve Phipps.

Guilty on 3 counts

McMahan, 50, was convicted in 2008 in Muskogee of two counts of interstate travel to meet Phipps to facilitate bribery and one count of conspiracy to deprive Oklahoma citizens of their right to honest public service.

He is serving a prison term imposed by U.S. District Judge James Payne.

McMahan testified at trial that he did not know of the conspiracy and denied he ever corruptly accepted anything with the intent that his official action be influenced.

"The jury heard evidence that Phipps underwrote a sizable percentage of McMahan's 2002 campaign, funded several of McMahan's trips (after the election) and bestowed a variety of other gifts" on him and his wife, Lori, the Denver-based court said.

"Further, the evidence revealed that in return for Phipps' contributions, McMahan provided several favors to Phipps in his official capacity as state auditor," the judges wrote.

Legislative influence

The judges also cited how McMahan tried to influence state legislators in an effort to help a chain of title abstracting companies owned by Phipps and former state Sen. Gene Stipe, D-McAlester. The auditor's office regulated the abstracting industry.

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