DENVER — Prosecutors contend former Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan was rightfully convicted and should stay in prison. The U.S. attorney’s office in Muskogee took that stance in a filing at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The prosecutors are responding to McMahan’s arguments in September about why the Denver-based court should overturn his corruption convictions. McMahan, 49, is serving eight years and one month in federal prison for conspiracy to deprive Oklahoma citizens of their right to honest public service and for interstate travel to facilitate bribery. He was convicted in 2008. In their argument filed late Friday, the prosecutors rebut McMahan’s claim that U.S. District Judge James Payne made errors during the trial that were so serious the former state official was wrongfully convicted. Payne’s instructions to jurors were valid and the judge was correct in denying McMahan an opportunity to show occasions when he did not accept improper donations, say assistant U.S. attorneys Gay Guthrie and Linda Epperley. "The evidence (the) defendant sought to offer would be similar to allowing a bank robber tell the jury of each bank he chose NOT to rob,” they wrote. "Such evidence is irrelevant to whether (the) defendant committed the offenses.” The prosecutors also contend "there is a good reason” why McMahan’s sentence is more severe than the penalty for a co-conspirator who cooperated with prosecutors. They said cooperation of Steve Phipps led directly to guilty pleas by two others and the convictions of McMahan and his wife, Lori, 44.