An Oklahoma County judge is scheduled to hear evidence in the blackmail and computer crimes case against the co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party.
Special Judge Susan Johnson will preside over a preliminary hearing Friday for 54-year-old Al Gerhart. Prosecutors filed charges in April alleging Gerhart sent an email intended to intimidate Republican Sen. Cliff Branan of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.
An affidavit says Gerhart acknowledged sending the email on March 26. The email concerned a House-passed bill favored by conservative tea party supporters that Branan did not hear in his committee.
Gerhart has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The preliminary hearing will determine if prosecutors have enough evidence to show a crime was committed and that there is probable cause that Gerhart committed it.
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