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Prosecutors call for significant, lengthy prison sentence for former leader of Oklahoma Senate

Federal prosecutors ask judge to reject former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan's request for probation. A jury convicted Morgan of taking $12,000 in bribes.
by Nolan Clay Published: November 2, 2012
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Federal prosecutors Friday called on a judge to sentence former Senate leader Mike Morgan to a significant, lengthy prison term to deter other public officials “tempted by corruption.”

Morgan, 57, of Stillwater, faces up to 10 years in prison on his bribery conviction. Morgan is seeking probation and still claims he is innocent.

The sentencing has not been set yet.

Prosecutors argued to U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron that any substantial show of leniency, especially probation, “would signal to the public that government authorities will tolerate elected officials who compromise their democratic duties.”

“It would also lead future corrupt public officials to think that if they can amass enough goodwill and power, they will not face serious punishment if their corruption is unmasked,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Williams and Vicki Behenna wrote in a 51-page sentencing memo.

Morgan's supporters ask for leniency

Jurors in March found Morgan, a Democrat, guilty of accepting $12,000 in bribes from an Edmond company that operated assisted-living centers.

In their sentencing memo, prosecutors publicly allege for the first time that Morgan actually accepted almost $550,000 in bribes from five “clients” in exchange for legislative assistance. They allege Morgan, an attorney, disguised the payments as legal fees.

“I never sold my seat,” Morgan testified during his trial in Oklahoma City's federal courthouse.

More than 400 Morgan supporters have written the judge letters asking for leniency.

Those writing character letters include two U.S. congressmen, university presidents, legislators, lobbyists, former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer and former Oklahoma State University basketball coach Eddie Sutton.

Prosecutors told the judge Friday that it is hardly surprising that Morgan has high-profile friends. “One does not become president pro tem without impressing colleagues and leaders of public and private institutions,” they wrote.

Prosecutors pointed out that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich also submitted many letters of support asking for leniency at his sentencing for corruption.

They noted the federal judge in Illinois “was not impressed” and sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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