Terrill, Leftwich make first court appearances in bribery case

Oklahoma Rep. Randy Terrill said Monday he is “100 percent innocent” of a bribery charge, and he repeated his claim that he is being prosecuted for political reasons.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: January 4, 2011

State Rep. Randy Terrill said Monday he is “100 percent innocent” of a bribery charge and he repeated his claim that he is being prosecuted for political reasons.

Terrill, a Republican, spoke to reporters after he and former Sen. Debbe Leftwich made their first court appearances in the bribery case. They were charged Dec. 22 in Oklahoma County District Court.

Special Judge Russell Hall told both he entered not guilty pleas for them. The next step in the case – a preliminary hearing conference — was set for March 17.

“What we have here is actually a good old-fashioned political persecution, not a criminal prosecution, by an overzealous and hyper partisan Democrat district attorney who has charged a nonexistent crime,” Terrill said. “Make no mistake about it; I am not being targeted because of anything that I've done because I haven't done anything. ... Rather I'm being charged because of who I am and what I believe. And that's something that every real conservative should find extremely troubling.”

District Attorney David Prater, who personally signed the charge, said later Monday, “I'll comment when it's an appropriate time to do so.”

Terrill made similar comments Dec. 23, saying then the “whole point of filing the charge is simply to damage me politically.” Prater responded Dec. 23, “My job has nothing to do with politics.”

Leftwich, a Democrat, did not make a statement Monday. Her attorney, Robert McCampbell, told reporters, “We're fully confident that she's going to be found 100 percent innocent. Sen. Leftwich has not done anything wrong and we welcome this opportunity to go to court and use the legal process to get this before a judge and get this decided. … We will go forward with this case. We will start with a motion to dismiss.”

Terrill and Leftwich did not have to post bail. They remain free on personal recognizance bonds. They shook hands in the courtroom Monday before the judge came in.

Earlier Monday, they turned themselves in at the Oklahoma County jail. There, they were fingerprinted and photographed.

Terrill is widely known for his strong stance against illegal immigration. He is the author of anti-illegal immigration legislation that passed in 2007. At the time, it was considered the toughest such law in the United States.

2 face felony counts

Terrill, 41, of Moore, is accused in a felony count of offering Leftwich a bribe — an $80,000-a-year state job — to not run for re-election to the state Senate. Leftwich, 59, of Oklahoma City, is accused in a separate felony count of soliciting and/or accepting the bribe.

Terrill was re-elected easily in November, even though he was known to be under investigation. Leftwich did not run for re-election.

The job at the center of the case was to be a new position — a transition coordinator to help the state medical examiner's office move from Oklahoma City to Edmond. Witnesses reported Terrill was the legislator who had the position added to a reform bill. Officials at the medical examiner's office said he pressured them to hire Leftwich.