Two Oklahoma City attorneys accused of bribing an Edmond police officer in 2007 were found guilty of misdemeanors and
Josh T. Welch, 43, entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer in the performance of his official duties.
Sam Kerr, 33, was charged with a felony, offering a bribe. He entered an Alford plea to a reduced charge of obstructing a public officer.
Under an Alford plea, the defendant asserts innocence but admits the prosecution has evidence likely to convince a judge or jury to render a guilty verdict.
Kerr and Welch received two-year deferred sentences Thursday as part of a plea agreement.
Kerr's attorney, John W. Coyle, said his client, who no longer practices law, was happy to put the case behind him.
“He's very disappointed that he got involved in the situation in the first place,” Coyle said. “He was a brand new lawyer with not much guidance and got himself into some circumstances that led to this unfortunate plea.”
“The matter is more than five years old and I made a decision to resolve it and put it behind me,” Welch said.
“By virtue of the agreement, I would not and did not admit to any wrongdoing.”
A third defendant, J. David Ogle, 44, is charged with bribing an officer, a felony. He is due back in court next month.
The three once worked together in a law firm, Ogle & Welch, that specialized in criminal defense work.
Prosecutors allege that Ogle and Kerr acted together to pay $500 to an Edmond police officer Danny Austill not to show up at a client's driver's license revocation hearing. The officer reported the offer to a supervisor, then played along.
Prosecutors allege the men used a retired Edmond police officer as a go-between. Christopher Caplinger, 49, was charged in 2007 with bribery, pleaded guilty in 2009 and is on probation until Oct. 28, records indicate.
Austill had run a Breathalyzer test on Jeremy Stapely, a commercial pilot who was arrested in a drunken-driving accident on March 15, 2007. Austill was paid to be sick on the day Shapely had a hearing at the Department of Public Safety, authorities said.
Prosecutors allege Ogle came up with the scheme and gave Caplinger a $750 check after Caplinger paid the $500 bribe. Prosecutors allege Ogle signed a letter disguising the payment as private investigator work on another case.
Welch admitted putting Caplinger and Kerr into contact, prosecutors said.
Stapely never lost his driver's license.