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.
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.
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.
In a statement signed Thursday, Leftwich admitted she had wanted the job of transition coordinator. “I knew Randy Terrill was promoting me for the job,” she said in the statement.
District Judge Cindy Truong found the former lawmaker guilty after considering that statement as well as all the evidence and testimony from Terrill's trial. Leftwich admitted in her statement that the judge had “sufficient evidence to find me guilty.”
The judge imposed the sentence that had been agreed upon by prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Leftwich showed no emotion during the 15-minute hearing.
The judge was told at the hearing that Leftwich knows she could lose her retirement pay because of the outcome of her case. The Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System will decide that issue.
Leftwich did not speak to reporters as she left the courtroom. In a written statement, she said, “I am glad to have this phase of the case resolved in a manner which will allow us to get a ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals.”
Her defense attorney, Robert McCampbell, told reporters, “Our case at the Court of Criminal Appeals will be she was never a candidate as that term is used in the Oklahoma Election Code.”
The defense attorney contends Leftwich wasn't a candidate in 2010 because she never filed for her Senate seat that year with the state Election Board.
The judge rejected that argument months ago. Truong ruled Leftwich was a candidate under the law because she had been accepting campaign donations for a 2010 race.
Prosecutors called the outcome Thursday a just one.
“There's different levels of culpability in every case. We think this is an entirely appropriate outcome,” said First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland.
Leftwich served seven years in the state Senate. She won a special election in December 2003 to complete her late husband's term. Her husband, Sen. Keith Leftwich, died of cancer in September 2003.