Testimony to get under way in political bribery case

Potential witnesses include former Gov. Brad Henry and more than a dozen current and former legislators.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: October 31, 2011
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Former Gov. Brad Henry and more than a dozen former and current legislators are among the witnesses who could testify this week in a political bribery case.

An Oklahoma County judge plans to begin the preliminary hearing for state Rep. Randy Terrill and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich Monday morning.

Special Judge Stephen Alcorn has set aside four days this week for the hearing. The judge must decide if the evidence is sufficient for a later trial.

The preliminary hearing finally gets under way at a time when District Attorney David Prater himself has come under investigation.

Terrill, R-Moore, and Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, deny wrongdoing. Terrill also has claimed he is being targeted for political reasons.

Terrill, 42, is accused of offering Leftwich a bribe — an $80,000-a-year state job — to not run last year for re-election. Prosecutors allege he acted so his friend, state Rep. Mike Christian, could seek her Senate seat.

Leftwich, 60, is accused in a separate felony count of soliciting and/or accepting a bribe.

Prosecutors allege the job was a new state 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.

Leftwich never got the job. Henry vetoed the reform bill after the district attorney announced he was investigating the circumstances behind the job's creation.

Also, Christian, a Republican, dropped plans to run for the Senate. Christian then won re-election to his south Oklahoma City House seat.

Terrill and Leftwich were charged in December. The preliminary hearing was delayed more than once because Leftwich claimed she had legislative immunity from prosecution. Both the state Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals rejected her efforts to stop the bribery case from going forward.



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