A jury Thursday saw handwritten notes that prosecutors say prove lobbyist Andrew Skeith was involved in a conspiracy to bribe a state senator to influence landfill legislation.
Skeith is on trial in federal court in Oklahoma City with former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan and prominent attorney Martin Stringer.
Testimony in the bribery, extortion and conspiracy case began Tuesday.
Prosecutors put into evidence Thursday five pages of notes written by an attorney who spoke with Skeith by phone in May 2005. The attorney, Ron L. Walker, worked with Stringer for a company, Dilworth Development Inc., that was seeking a permit to build a landfill in northern Oklahoma.
Most significant to prosecutors are the notes “red alert,” “runaway train,” “anything to be done to stop it,” “Senate — try to kill,” “Morgan — retainer,” “50K” and “after session over.”
Prosecutors contend the notes show Skeith alerted Stringer's law firm about an amendment to a bill that would have prevented Dilworth Development from ever building its landfill. They contend the notes show the lobbyist intended to get Morgan to kill the amendment.
Prosecutors contend the notes further show Skeith urged that Morgan be paid $50,000 in retainer fees after the legislative session was over.
Two owners of Dilworth Development have testified they hired Morgan in June 2005 for his political influence after being told he already had killed the amendment that would have halted their landfill plans. They agreed to pay him $50,000 a year.
The company ended up paying more than $141,000 to Morgan over the next three years. “It was to watch our back,” one owner, Edith Denton, testified.
Morgan also is accused of taking $250,000 in bribes from a power plant company and $12,000 in bribes from an Edmond assisted-living business. Jurors are to hear testimony about those payments later. Morgan, who is an attorney, contends he was paid for legitimate legal services.
Morgan, 57, of Stillwater, Stringer, 71, of Oklahoma City, and Skeith, 53, of Edmond, were indicted in March. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Morgan, a Democrat, was Senate president pro tem or co-president pro tem from March 2005 until November 2008, according to the indictment.
Walker testified Thursday about his notes for almost three hours even though he said he could not recall his conversations with Skeith.
He specifically said he does not know if notes such as “Morgan — retainer” and “50K,” which is short for $50,000, came from what Skeith told him.
Walker told the jury he was not a part of any plan to bribe Morgan and wouldn't have participated in one. “I had no knowledge of any improper action,” Walker testified.
The judge excused the jury at 12:13 p.m. Thursday so one juror could deal with a problem. Testimony is set to resume at 9 a.m. Friday. The trial is expected to last two to three more weeks.