Former state Senate leader Mike Morgan was sentenced Tuesday to probation on his bribery conviction after more than 400 supporters wrote letters to the judge urging leniency.
“You are well-loved in the community, in many communities,” U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron said.
The longtime judge put Morgan on probation for five years.
She ordered him to complete 104 hours of community service and to pay a $100 special assessment to the federal government.
Morgan, 57, of Stillwater, was not fined but must forfeit $12,000 to the federal government. He had faced up to 10 years in federal prison.
The judge announced his punishment after a three-hour hearing at the Oklahoma City federal courthouse. “Yes!” whispered one Morgan supporter. Others wept.
A teary-eyed Morgan hugged several.
Outside the courthouse, a smiling Morgan thanked his family, friends and attorneys for sustaining him “through a nightmare that I wouldn't wish on any living person.”
“The last nine years of my life have been indescribable,” he told news reporters. “I'm looking forward today to the future for the first time in a long time.”
Jurors in March found Morgan, a Democrat, guilty of accepting $12,000 in bribes to influence legislation in 2007.
He was paid $1,000 a month for a year by an Edmond company that operated assisted-living centers. Prosecutors accused Morgan, an attorney, of disguising the bribes as monthly retainer fees.
Morgan at trial denied the payments were bribes. He said Tuesday he still may appeal.
“I didn't commit any crime. I am innocent of this crime, and I think someday, somehow, the truth will come out, and that will be proven,” he told reporters.
Federal prosecutors had sought a significant, lengthy prison term to deter other public officials “tempted by corruption.”
Morgan had sought probation. His attorney said Morgan will no longer be able to practice law because of the conviction. The attorney also said Morgan has spent more than $200,000 on legal fees because of the case.
“His life has been forever changed,” the defense attorney, Jack Fisher, told the judge.
Prosecutors clearly were disappointed in the judge's decision on punishment, but they promised in a news release later to continue to fight public corruption.
“Both the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI remain committed as ever to the pursuit of public corruption cases and holding accountable any public officials who abuse their positions for personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said.
About the case
Morgan was Senate president pro tem in 2005 and 2006. He was Senate co-president pro tem in 2007 and 2008.