Former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan is sentenced to probation

Former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan was convicted by a jury of accepting $12,000 in bribes. A federal judge in Oklahoma City decided his punishment.
by Nolan Clay Modified: January 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013

He was indicted in 2011, along with a lobbyist and a prominent Oklahoma City attorney. Morgan originally faced 63 counts.

At his trial last year, prosecutors presented evidence Morgan took $12,000 in bribes from the assisted-living company, $250,000 in bribes from an energy company and $141,666 in bribes from a landfill company. He insisted he provided the companies legal services.

Prosecutors dropped a conspiracy count during the trial because of rulings by the judge.

Jurors convicted Morgan of only one felony count — bribery.

Jurors acquitted Morgan of fraud counts involving the energy company.

Jurors also acquitted him of a conspiracy count involving the landfill company. They deadlocked on other felony counts involving the landfill company. Prosecutors elected not to retry Morgan on those counts.

Judge's comments

Despite the outcome at trial, prosecutors still wanted the judge to consider the energy company's payments and landfill company's payments to Morgan in deciding his sentence. Prosecutors also asked her to consider against Morgan payments made to him by a lobbyist and by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives.

The judge refused, saying all of the evidence was as consistent with innocence as it is with guilt.

In announcing her decision on punishment, the judge noted that Morgan was charged with a lot of counts but only convicted of one.

She also noted that the conviction was based on what she called “suspect evidence” — the testimony of “a convicted felon.”

Sam Crosby, the owner of the assisted-living company, was awaiting sentencing on a bank fraud case when he testified against Morgan.

The judge noted during the sentence how impressed she was that more than 400 supporters of Morgan wrote her letters.

They included two U.S. congressmen, university presidents, legislators, lobbyists, former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer and former Oklahoma State University basketball coach Eddie Sutton.

The judge acknowledged Tuesday that a prison term could deter officials from crime. She said the publicity about Morgan's case, the impact on his health and finances, and the loss of his legal practice “would surely deter others.”

The outcome Tuesday was not a complete surprise because the judge has been critical of the prosecution's evidence before.

Morgan said, “She understands the weakness of this case.”

At trial, the judge dismissed all the counts against the lobbyist who had been indicted with Morgan and half the counts against the prominent Oklahoma City attorney. Jurors found the attorney not guilty on the remaining counts.

The judge explained she dismissed the counts because the prosecution's “offered proof was nothing other than inference piled on inference.”

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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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