Former Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill found guilty of political bribery charge

Oklahoma County jurors chose a punishment of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
by Nolan Clay Modified: October 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm •  Published: October 29, 2013

Former state Rep. Randy Terrill was convicted Tuesday of a political bribery charge and immediately jailed.

The 12 jurors found the once-powerful lawmaker guilty after deliberating almost four hours. Jurors chose a punishment of one year in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

An Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy handcuffed Terrill behind his back immediately after the verdict was announced.

Deputies then led him from the courtroom to a jail elevator.

Terrill, 44, of Moore, was convicted of a felony — offering a bribe to a candidate to withdraw. The maximum possible punishment on the charge was two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Terrill showed no reaction as District Judge Cindy Truong read the verdict at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.

“It's very disappointing, and I'm confident it will be turned over on appeal,” defense attorney Chris Eulberg said afterward.

Terrill is asking to be released on bond while he appeals. Prosecutors are expected to oppose the request. The judge scheduled a hearing on the issue for Wednesday afternoon.

“We're obviously pleased with the jury's verdict,” Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger said. Formal sentencing was set for Dec. 5

Also set in December is the jury trial for a co-defendant, former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich.

Leftwich, 62, of Oklahoma City, also is charged with a felony — soliciting and/or accepting a bribe to withdraw. She has pleaded not guilty. She did not testify at Terrill's trial.

Prosecutors alleged Terrill, a Republican, offered Leftwich, a Democrat, an $80,000-a-year state job at the medical examiner's office in 2010. Prosecutors allege he bribed her so she would not run for re-election to her Senate seat that year.

“Mr. Terrill masterminded a scheme to corrupt the integrity of the political process,” Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Harmon told jurors in closing arguments. “Their actions altered the makeup of the state Senate.”

Prosecutors alleged Terrill acted in part to help state Rep. Mike Christian, his friend. Christian, R-Oklahoma City, had planned in 2010 to run for Leftwich's seat, but ran for re-election to his House seat instead.

Terrill's testimony

In defiant testimony Tuesday morning, Terrill denied offering Leftwich a bribe to withdraw her candidacy.

“Did you do that?” his defense attorney asked.

“Absolutely not,” Terrill said.

Terrill was the final witness. He testified for two hours.

After testifying, he complained to news reporters that prosecutors had put the legislative process itself on trial.

“This prosecution has done more damage to our political system than anything that I can think of in recent history,” Terrill said.

In 2010, Terrill was chairman of a House appropriations subcommittee that oversaw the medical examiner's office.

Terrill had the language creating the new position — a transition coordinator — inserted into a reform bill nine days before the legislative session ended, according to prosecution testimony.

One key witness for the prosecution was Cherokee Ballard, a well-known former television reporter who worked for about three years at the medical examiner's office as a legislative liaison and spokeswoman.

The second key witness was Tom Jordan, the former chief administrative officer at the medical examiner's office.

Both testified Terrill pressured Jordan to hire Leftwich to the transition coordinator job.

“We felt like we didn't have a choice,” Ballard said of a May 17, 2010, meeting with Terrill at the Capitol.

Terrill on Tuesday denied pressuring anyone. He said both key witnesses were confused or didn't remember the meetings correctly.

Ongoing Coverage: Trial and investigation

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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