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Appeals court upholds former Oklahoma legislators bribery convictions

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed the convictions of former state Representative Randy Terrill and former state Senator Debbe Leftwich.

The court’s opinions Friday were unanimous.

Terrill must now serve his sentence for the felony political bribery conviction, which is one year in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors alleged Terrill, a Republican, offered Leftwich, a Democrat, an $80,000-a-year job at the State Medical Examiner’s office in 2010 so she would not run for re-election.

Terrill’s friend, Rep. Mike Christian planned to run for Leftwich’s Senate seat.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Terrill inserted language into a bill meant to overhaul the Medical Examiner’s office.

He created a transition coordinator position that would be funded by money from an OBN “slush fund,” which he oversaw as subcommittee chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee for Public Safety and the Judiciary.

Terrill met with ME personnel, insisting that Leftwich be hired for the transition coordinator position.

Leftwich was convicted of soliciting and/or accepting a bribe.

She was sentenced to one year of probation.

Her felony conviction now prevents her from being able to collect her state retirement.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, she can never run for state political office again nor can she ever hold a state job.

A jury convicted Terrill in October 2013.

He was handcuffed in court and spent one night in the Oklahoma County jail.

He has been free on bond awaiting a decision on his appeal.

On May 29th, Terrill turned himself into the Oklahoma County Jail.

Officials say he will be transported to state prison to serve a one year sentence.

Leftwich was convicted by Judge Cindy Truong in December 2013 in a bench trial.

She appealed, claiming that she was not really a candidate in 2010, even though she was raising money for her campaign.

In the appeals court’s written opinon, Presiding Judge Clancy Smith wrote:

“Leftwich also argues that the trial court’s interpretation of the statute encouraged unfettered discretion and arbitrary prosecution. Nothing in the record supports this claim. Testimony showed that legislators commonly have an open campaign account with the Ethics Commission throughout their terms of office, and are considered ‘candidates’ by the Ethics Commission until that account is closed. Given this, Leftwich argues no legislator could accept an offer of a full-time job during their
term of office. This is nonsense.”