A motion seeking a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the jury’s verdict was filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City for former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater. The motion, filed electronically on Sunday, claims evidence does not support Morgan’s conviction.
Morgan, 57, was convicted of bribery on March 5 by a jury that found him not guilty of related extortion and mail fraud counts and could not reach a verdict on other counts. Federal prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss the mistried counts.
Morgan was accused of illegally accepting more than $400,000 from three companies that sought his influence on pending legislation between 2005 and 2008. Morgan has said the payments were for legal services he performed for the companies.
All charges against a co-defendant, lobbyist William Andrew Skeith, 53, of Edmond, were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron. Cauthron also dismissed half the counts against another co-defendant, attorney N. Martin Stringer, 71, of Oklahoma City, and the jury acquitted him on the rest.
Morgan’s attorney, David Ogle, also asked Cauthron for more time to request a new trial in the event she denies Morgan’s request for acquittal. In a separate motion, Ogle asked Cauthron for permission to contact members of the jury that convicted Morgan on the lone bribery count.
That motion says attorneys associated with the case have indirectly received information from two of the 12 jurors “indicating that it was a very contentious deliberation process and that certain instructions of this court were disregarded.”
The motion to acquit Morgan says evidence about his co-defendants prejudiced the jury and led to the single-count guilty verdict.
That count involved a $12,000 payment Morgan accepted from Silver Oak Senior Living, a company that wanted to limit the Health Department’s regulation of assisted-living centers.
But the motion says there was no direct evidence that Morgan influenced or attempted to influence legislation on the company’s behalf and no evidence that he led others, including the company’s owner, to believe he would.
“This verdict clearly was reached by the piling of inference upon inference and the reliance, via comparison and contrast, of the evidence,” it says. It adds later, “No viable evidence, nor reasonable and appropriate inference can be drawn to warrant the conviction.”
Neither Ogle nor a spokesman for federal prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troester, immediately returned telephone calls seeking comment.