Oklahoma Politician Resentenced for Bribery

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A former leader of the Oklahoma Senate was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a half in federal prison after his original sentence of probation was seen as too light by an appeals court.
     U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron sentenced Michael Steven Morgan, 61, to 18 months after his original sentence of probation in 2013 was tossed by the 10th Circuit last year.
     Morgan, a Democrat from Stillwater, was convicted of one count of bribery in March 2012.
     Jurors had deadlocked or acquitted him of 61 other counts, including 33 felonies. Morgan originally faced up to 10 years in federal prison.
     Prosecutors said Morgan, an attorney, accepted payments from an assisted-living company that were disguised as legal fees in exchange for legislative favors.
     “Specifically, Morgan took 12 $1,000 bribe payments in 2006 and 2007, disguised as legal fees, from Silver Oak Senior Living Center. Evidence showed that Silver Oak had been at odds with the Oklahoma Department of Health, which was attempting to impose regulations on assisted-living facilities,” prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday. “In exchange for the bribe payments, evidence showed that Morgan authored Senate Bill 738, which became law after modification at the end of the 2007 session and helped Silver Oak by lifting some of its regulatory burdens.”
     In throwing out Morgan’s original sentence, the 10th Circuit said the public should not tolerate “a sentence amount grossly at odds with the sentencing guidelines and amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist.”
     Morgan told Judge Cauthron that he “continues to maintain his innocence” but has stopped additional appeals.
     “Morgan is resigned to resentencing at this point in order to get this chapter of his life behind him,” his sentencing memo states.
     Morgan served as state Senate president pro tem from 2005 to 2006 and co-president pro tem from 2007 to 2008.

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