The Norman Transcript

State/Region

October 30, 2013

Former lawmaker Randy Terrill, R-Moore, convicted in bribery trial

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Christian was never charged, never sought Leftwich’s seat and was re-elected to the state House.

Terrill, best known as the author of Oklahoma’s tough immigration law adopted by the Legislature in 2007, was convicted of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy. Leftwich is accused of soliciting a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy.

Prosecutors allege 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 divert $90,000 to the office from a fund at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both measures after the bribery allegations surfaced.

A witness for the prosecution, Cherokee Ballard, a former television reporter who worked as the legislative liaison for the medical examiner’s office in 2010, testified she and the agency’s chief administrative officer, Tom Jordan, felt pressure from Terrill, who made it known he wanted Leftwich hired for the post.

“We felt like we didn’t have a choice,” Ballard said.

During his testimony Tuesday, Terrill denied telling officials at the medical examiner’s office to hire Leftwich for the job and said their memories of the conversations were confused.

He said the measure creating the new position was approved only after it received majority votes in both the state House and the Senate.

“I cannot do anything by myself,” Terrill said. “I’m a bill manager, and my job is to move the bill through the process.”

Defense attorneys have said 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. Terrill left the Legislature last year.

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

In his closing argument, Eulberg said prosecutors had not proven Terrill had committed a crime and that evidence in the case was merely “an illusion.”

“They failed to prove that Rep. Terrill did anything that was illegal,” Eulberg told Terrill’s jury. “You cannot convict on rumors.”

But prosecutors said the evidence was clear Terrill manipulated legislation and his colleagues.

“He almost got away with it,” Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger said.

 

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