Former Senate leader Mike Morgan found guilty of one count of bribery

Jurors find Mike Morgan guilty of one count of bribery but they acquit or deadlocked on 61 other counts. Jurors acquit prominent Oklahoma City attorney Martin Stringer of all 29 counts he faced.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: March 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm •  Published: March 5, 2012
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A former leader of the Oklahoma Senate was found guilty Monday of taking $12,000 in bribes to influence legislation.

The jury found Mike Morgan, a Democrat, guilty only of a single bribery count. He plans to appeal.

“We are very disappointed,” said his attorney, David Ogle.

Jurors acquitted Morgan of 33 other felony counts.

They deadlocked on 28 felony counts. Prosecutors have a week to decide whether to retry him before a different jury on those 28 counts.

Jurors also acquitted prominent Oklahoma City attorney Martin Stringer of all of the 29 felony counts remaining against him. The judge during the trial dismissed 33 other counts against Stringer because of insufficient evidence.

“I hope nobody ever has to go through what I've gone through,” Stringer, 71, told reporters afterward.

The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for about 15 hours over three days at the Oklahoma City federal courthouse.

U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron will decide Morgan's punishment later. The maximum punishment for a bribery conviction is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Morgan, 57, went to comfort his weeping daughter, Abby Morgan, after the judge announced the guilty verdict. “It's OK. It'll be OK,” he said, hugging her in the courtroom. He told a supporter, “I'm all right. I'm going to be fine.”

Deadlocked jury

Prosecutors alleged Morgan took $141,666 in bribes from an Oklahoma landfill development company, $250,000 in bribes from a power plant company and $12,000 in bribes from a business that owned assisted-living centers.

Prosecutors alleged Morgan was bribed to influence legislation while he was in the state Senate. He was Senate president pro tem in 2005 and 2006. He was the co-president pro tem in 2007 and 2008. He left the Senate in 2008 because of term limits

Prosecutors alleged Morgan, a Stillwater attorney, disguised the bribes as legal fees.

Morgan told jurors he was paid for legitimate legal services. “I never sold my seat,” he testified last week. “I would not risk everything I've worked for my entire life to do the things the government has accused me of.”

Jurors acquitted Morgan of a conspiracy count involving the first company, Dilworth Development Co. Inc., whose owners wanted a permit to build a landfill in Kay County.

Jurors were deadlocked, though, on a single extortion count and 27 mail fraud counts involving the landfill development company.

One juror, Lisa Robertson, of Norman, told The Oklahoman the vote on those counts “was pretty split down the middle.”

“The deliberation process was certainly one that I would never want to go back to again,” she said. “I found that particularly difficult. Not that the people were unpleasant, but the process itself was ... unpleasant. Everyone was well intending. It's just hard when people see things differently than you do.”

Jurors acquitted Morgan of 32 mail fraud counts involving the second company, Tenaska Inc., which was considering building a coal-fired power plant in Oklahoma. Prosecutors during the trial dropped a conspiracy count against Morgan involving Tenaska.

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