Judge dismisses case against Oklahoma lobbyist
BY TIM TALLEY Associated Press
Friday, February 24, 2012
2/24/12 at 3:51 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge on Friday dismissed all charges against a lobbyist and more than half of those against an attorney who were accused of conspiring with the former leader of the Oklahoma Senate to illegally take more than $400,000 from three companies.
But all charges still remain against former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, who's accused of extortion, bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud
U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron handed down the ruling Friday after the government rested its case. The defense is expected to present its case Monday.
Morgan is accused of conspiring with lobbyist William Skeith and attorney Ed Martin Stringer, who were charged with conspiracy, extortion and mail fraud.
Cauthron dismissed all 62 charges against Skeith and 32 charges against Stringer that involved one of the companies, Tenaska Inc. Stringer still faces 30 counts in the case.
Prosecutors claim the men accepted money from Tenaska, which wanted to build a 600-megawatt, coal-fired plant for the Grand River Dam Authority. The plant was never built.
In dismissing the charges, Cauthron said prosecutors hadn't presented enough evidence against Skeith and Morgan to give the case to the jury.
"I have many comments about the evidence in this case. I'm not going to make them," Cauthron said.
Morgan declined comment but his attorney, David Ogle, said he was not surprised by the judge's actions.
"Not one bit surprised with the court's ruling as the government's case is continuing to unravel," Ogle said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Williams declined to comment after the ruling.
Skeith smiled and shook his attorneys' hands when Cochran dismissed all counts against him. Morgan later embraced Skeith and said, "I'm happy for you."
Skeith said he was not surprised to be dismissed from the case.
"I never felt we were guilty of anything. We did our job of working for our clients," Skeith said.
"We knew all along that Andy was innocent," said Warren Gotcher, who represented Skeith. "We're very grateful for the ruling."