A federal judge refused to grant a mistrial in corruption proceedings against the former leader of the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday, just days after she dismissed all charges against a lobbyist charged as a conspirator in the case.
An attorney for former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan had argued that his right to a fair trial was jeopardized by the dismissal of conspiracy counts against him and two others involved in the case.
Morgan, 57, of Stillwater, was accused of conspiring with William Andrew Skeith, 53, of Edmond, and attorney N. Martin Stringer, 71, of Oklahoma City, to accept more than $400,000 from three companies that sought his influence on pending legislation between 2005 and 2008.
Morgan's defense attorney has said the payments were for legal services Morgan performed for the companies. Prosecutors allege Morgan performed no legal work.
Skeith and Stringer were charged with conspiracy, extortion and mail fraud, but Cauthron dismissed all 62 charges against Skeith and 32 charges, including a conspiracy count, against Stringer that involved one of the companies, power plant developer Tenaska Inc. Stringer still faces 29 counts in the case.
Cauthron said prosecutors did not present enough evidence that Skeith and Stringer were part of a conspiracy in the case, leaving Morgan charged with conspiracy with no named conspirators. Federal prosecutors dismissed the conspiracy count against Morgan on Monday but he remained charged with bribery, extortion and mail fraud.
Stringer and Morgan have pleaded not guilty to the remaining counts.
Morgan's mistrial motion said because all three were charged with conspiracy, members of Morgan's 12-member jury heard statements by co-conspirators and other testimony and exhibits that would not have been admissible if the defendants had been tried individually.
The judge also rejected a motion Tuesday from the defense to sever Morgan's case from Stringer's.