The Norman Transcript

Homepage

May 8, 2014

Sooner Tea Party co-founder convicted of blackmail

OKLAHOMA CITY — A jury convicted the co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party on Wednesday of felony blackmail and computer crimes charges but recommended that he not serve any prison time and that he pay a $1,000 fine.

Al Gerhart, 55, could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison for each of the two counts.

Judge Ray Elliott could disregard the jury’s recommended punishment for Gerhart at his July 22 sentencing hearing in Oklahoma County District Court, but it’s highly unlikely he would do so.

Gerhart admits that he sent an email to state Sen. Cliff Branan urging the Oklahoma City Republican to schedule a hearing on legislation favored by Gerhart’s activist conservative political group.

Branan, the chairman of the Senate Energy, Telecommunication and Environment Committee, testified Tuesday that he felt threatened by the email that vowed to “dig into your past” and mentioned his family and associates.

The March 26, 2013, email said if Branan’s committee didn’t take up a bill to prohibit state organizations from following a United Nations plan to help cities and countries become more environmentally sustainable, “I will make sure you regret not doing it.”

Branan had refused to give the bill a hearing, saying the legislation was based on a “fringe conspiracy” alleging that the U.N. wanted to use its Agenda 21 plan to encroach on the private property rights of Americans.

Jurors began their deliberations shortly after noon Wednesday, which was the third day of the trial.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
New and Developing

Headlines

Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Big 12 Media Days
Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Business

Photos


Facebook