Judge in Mike Morgan trial drops all of case against Oklahoma lobbyist, part of case against attorney

An Oklahoma City federal judge refused to dismiss a bribery case against former Senate leader Mike Morgan. The judge threw out all counts against longtime lobbyist Andy Skeith and 33 of the counts against prominent attorney Martin Stringer.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: February 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm •  Published: February 24, 2012
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A judge Friday dismissed all of a political corruption case against longtime Oklahoma lobbyist Andy Skeith and half of the case against prominent attorney Martin Stringer because of insufficient evidence.

The judge, though, did not dismiss any of the indictment against former Senate leader Mike Morgan.

Morgan, a Democrat, is accused of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes from three companies to influence legislation.

U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled after prosecutors rested their case on the ninth day of the jury trial in federal court in Oklahoma City.

“You're free to go,” the judge told Skeith immediately after ruling.

The judge dismissed all of the 62 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and extortion against the lobbyist and 33 of the 62 counts against Stringer. Both were accused of involvement in conspiracies to bribe Morgan.

Morgan still faces the same 62 counts, plus an additional count of bribery.

Prosecutors may have to drop one of the two conspiracy counts against Morgan because of the judge's ruling. The trial for Morgan and Stringer resumes Monday.

After the ruling, Skeith told reporters he planned to “sleep the sleep of the redeemed” Friday night.

Defense attorneys Warren Gotcher and Merle Gile told reporters Skeith was fired by all his lobbying clients after being indicted. Gile estimated Skeith made about $250,000 a year as a lobbyist.

“My guess is I'll never step back in the state Capitol again,” Skeith said. “There are other things to do in life that don't put you or your family in jeopardy. Nothing is worth this, nothing. I'd rather pick weeds for a living.”

Skeith criticized the case as the federal government trying to criminalize politics in Oklahoma.

“I never felt we were guilty of anything. We were just doing our job working for our clients,” he said.

The allegations

Prosecutors allege Morgan accepted $141,666 in bribes from a Kay County landfill development company, $250,000 in bribes from a national power plant company and $12,000 in bribes from an Edmond assisted-living company.

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