Fisher jailed after jury says guilty

By Nolan Clay Published: February 9, 2006
Former Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher was found guilty Wednesday of embezzlement and perjury in a campaign-corruption case - the first of five against him to go to trial.

Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies handcuffed a somber Fisher in court and jailed him immediately. District Judge Susan Caswell denied bail.

Jurors voted that Fisher serve one year in prison and be fined $10,000 for embezzlement. They said he should serve two years in prison and be fined $10,000 for perjury.

Prosecutors will ask the judge to stack the sentences - giving Fisher three years in all. Formal sentencing is Feb. 17.

"It's an indication that politician corruption will not be tolerated in this state at any level, said Attorney General Drew Edmondson, whose assistants prosecuted the case.

The attorney general said Fisher will be tried on "each and every one of the four other cases, unless he pleads guilty. The other charges against Fisher include a bribery case.

Fisher, a Tulsa Democrat, resigned in September 2004 after he was impeached by the state House and days before a Senate ouster trial was to begin. He was insurance commissioner nearly six years and has been working in San Diego.

Jurors Wednesday deliberated two hours and 20 minutes.

"There was just so much evidence there in the paperwork ... It wasn't a difficult decision, said the jury foreman, Shelly Doolen of Edmond. "The hardest part, and what took the longest, was the sentencing.

"Some wanted to give him more, she said. "There were a couple of people who would have just wanted a fine.

Fisher was found guilty of embezzling his own state campaign funds when he deposited a $1,000 campaign check into his overdrawn personal checking account in May 2003.

Fisher used the money to pay a $43 utility bill, make a $102 withdrawal and write checks, records show.

Fisher was found guilty of perjury because he didn't disclose the donation on a 2003 state campaign report but swore the report was accurate.

Fisher, who turned 66 Wednesday, did not testify. His defense attorneys plan to appeal.

Jurors rejected Fisher's defense that he was innocent because he planned to use the donation to "test the waters for a 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. "Everybody was in agreement that was pretty much a smokescreen, the jury foreman said.

Prosecutors gave jurors evidence showing Fisher never reported the donation on his federal campaign reports, either.

"He's no rookie in the political process. He knows what the rules are.... He knew what he was doing, Assistant Attorney General Joel-lyn McCormick told jurors.

At the time of the donation, Fisher already had started a 2006 re-election campaign.

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