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Former Oklahoma senator gets probation in bribery case

Former Oklahoma Sen. Debbe Leftwich was sentenced to probation for one year in her bribery case. Under a deal with prosecutors, she let a judge find her guilty. She did not plead guilty herself.
by Nolan Clay Modified: December 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm •  Published: December 5, 2013

Former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich was sentenced Thursday to one year on probation in her political bribery case.

The one-year suspended sentence makes her a convicted felon so she likely will lose her state retirement pay of $1,920 a month.

Leftwich, 62, of Oklahoma City, did not plead guilty to the felony bribery charge herself.

Instead, under a deal with prosecutors, she let a judge find her guilty of soliciting and/or accepting a bribe to withdraw as a candidate for political office.

Because of the deal, she avoids a jury trial that could have resulted in her going to prison for up to two years. Jury selection had been set to begin Monday in Oklahoma County District Court.

She agreed in the deal to never run for state political office or hold a state job in Oklahoma ever again.

She paid $378.50 in court costs and other fees Thursday after her sentencing.

The deal is unusual because it allows Leftwich to appeal a key legal point in her case. If she succeeds, her conviction would be overturned.

She was accused of dropping her re-election campaign in 2010 after she was offered a bribe — an $80,000-a-year job at the state medical examiner's office.

>>Read: Trial of Debbe Leftwich, Randy Terrill, former Oklahoma lawmakers, to advance after delay (Published Dec. 14, 2012)

>>Read: State Rep. Randy Terrill, former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich charged with bribery (Published Dec. 22, 2010)

Her co-defendant, former state Rep. Randy Terrill, was convicted at a trial in October of offering a bribe to withdraw. Jurors chose a punishment of a year in state prison and a $5,000 fine. His formal sentencing is set for Dec. 20.

Terrill, 44, of Moore, remains free on bail while he appeals.

>>Read: Former Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill found guilty of political bribery charge (Published Oct. 29, 2013)

Prosecutors alleged Terrill, a Republican, offered Leftwich, a Democrat, the job to help his friend, Rep. Mike Christian.

Christian, R-Oklahoma City, had planned in 2010 to run for Leftwich's seat. He ran for re-election to his House seat after he, Terrill and Leftwich came under investigation.

Christian was not charged.

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 testimony at his trial. Leftwich announced she was not running for re-election the day after the reform bill passed.

No one got the transition coordinator job because then-Gov. Brad Henry vetoed the reform bill after District Attorney David Prater announced he was investigating how the job was created.

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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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