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Former Oklahoma Senate leader sentenced to probation for bribery

OKLAHOMA CITY—Former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Michael Steven Morgan, 57, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Robin J. Cauthron to serve five years’ probation for bribery, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

“While this was not the sentence for which we advocated, the determination of sentencing in federal court is within the discretion of the Judge,” said U.S. Attorney Coats. “This is one of the most significant public corruption cases in this district in decades. Both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI remain committed as ever to the pursuit of public corruption cases and holding accountable any public officials who abuse their positions for personal gain. I commend the Assistant United States Attorneys and FBI special agents for their extraordinary work in this long and complex investigation and prosecution.”

The government alleged three different schemes. On March 5, 2012, the federal jury found Morgan guilty of bribery on one scheme, acquitted him on one scheme, and could not reach a unanimous verdict on a third scheme. According to evidence at trial on the scheme in which he was convicted, Morgan, an attorney, accepted payments from a business that owned assisted-living centers, disguised as legal fees, in exchange for favorable treatment in the legislature. Evidence at trial showed that 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. In exchange for the bribe payments, evidence showed that Morgan authored Senate Bill 738, which became law at the end of the 2007 session and helped Silver Oak by lifting some of its regulatory burdens.

In addition to serving five years of probation, Morgan was ordered to forfeit $12,000.

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