MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

December 20, 2013

Ex-lawmaker sentenced to year in prison

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma lawmaker was sentenced Friday to serve one year in prison and pay a $5,000 fine following his conviction on a felony bribery charge.

Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong handed down the sentence to former Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, who was found guilty by a 12-member jury in October of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy. Truong followed the jury’s sentencing recommendation and allowed Terrill to remain free on bail as he appeals his conviction.

Following the brief hearing, Terrill, 44, said he expects to be exonerated by his appeal.

“I have done absolutely nothing wrong. I have committed no crime,” Terrill told reporters.

Prosecutors accused Terrill of arranging to put a Democratic former state senator in an $80,000-a-year job at the Medical Examiner’s Office if she would not seek re-election in 2010 so a Republican colleague of Terrill’s, state Rep. Mike Christian of Oklahoma City, could seek her open seat. Christian was never charged and was re-elected to his House seat.

Best known as the author of Oklahoma’s tough immigration law adopted by the Legislature in 2007, Terrill wrote a bill that would create the job of “transition coordinator” at the Medical Examiner’s Office for Leftwich and used a separate bill to steer $90,000 to the office from a fund at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, prosecutors said. Then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both measures after the bribery allegations surfaced.  

Earlier this month, Leftwich was convicted for her role in the bribery scheme. She received a one-year suspended sentence that will keep her from serving jail time. Leftwich, 62, is also appealing her conviction.

Defense attorneys claimed Terrill did not have the authority to promise Leftwich a job, and that Leftwich wasn’t technically a candidate for re-election because she never filed the required paperwork with the state Election Board.

Defense attorneys also claimed the actions of Terrill and Leftwich were constitutionally protected because they were acting in their official capacity as legislators.

But prosecutors argued the evidence was clear that Terrill had manipulated legislation and his colleagues. Although Leftwich did not formally file re-election paperwork, she was raising money for a re-election campaign, they said.

Terrill said his appeal will concentrate on the issues surrounding Leftwich’s candidacy and his lack of authority to create a job for her. He has said the measure creating the new position at the Medical Examiner’s Office was approved only after it received majority votes in both the state House and the Senate.

“This show is going to move to the Court of Criminal Appeals,” Terrill said. “How do you withdraw from a race that you’ve never entered? There’s some deadly serious, very important legal issues that need to be decided on appeal.”

Terrill also expressed concern about the impact of the prosecution on the legislative process. He said the relationship between state lawmakers and members of their staff “has been eviscerated” by the actions of prosecutors.

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