In a rare move, federal prosecutors are challenging a judge's decision to put former state Senate leader Mike Morgan on probation instead of in prison.
Prosecutors Friday filed a notice that they are asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Morgan's sentence.
If the appeal succeeds, it is possible Morgan, 58, of Stillwater, could be resentenced to prison.
Jurors last year found Morgan, a Democrat, guilty of accepting $12,000 in bribes to influence legislation in 2007. Morgan, an attorney, testified at the trial in Oklahoma City federal court that the payments were for legal work.
In January, U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron sentenced Morgan to probation for five years.
Morgan also was ordered to complete 104 hours of community service and forfeit $12,000 to the federal government.
Morgan had faced up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors urged the judge to give Morgan “a meaningful sentence of imprisonment.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Williams told the judge that a sentence of probation “will tell potentially corrupt public officials that the cost of getting caught in a case like this is relatively low.”
Prosecutors will give their reasons for their challenge later. They may argue the appeals court should require the judge to resentence Morgan because she abused her discretion when she chose only probation.
Prosecutors in other federal cases have succeeded in such challenges. Last month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found a judge abused her discretion when she imposed an “unreasonably low seven-day” sentence on a former company executive who committed securities fraud.
Morgan is appealing
In choosing probation for Morgan, the judge noted that the conviction was based on what she called “suspect evidence” — the testimony of “a convicted felon.”