Merle Gile was hired to defend Andrew Skeith, a local lobbyist, in Oklahoma City. Skeith, along with Mike Morgan, ex State Senator and prominent high profile attorney Martin Stringer were accused of over 62 counts of conspiracy, bribery, extortion, mail fraud and other crimes related to influence peddling at the State Capital. Andrew Skeith, was accused of 62 counts of conspiracy related to the bribery, extortion, mail fraud allegedly committed by Morgan and Stringer. The story is this. A landfill operator wanted to open a landfill in Oklahoma. The landfill was opposed by the neighbors and local state representatives. The landfill operator hired Martin Stringer to get the permits for the landfill and Stringer said they had to hire State Senator Mike Morgan on retainer (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars) to get the job done. Skeith was present at meetings and gave advice on how the legislative process worked. Stringer was paid for legal advice. Morgan was paid for legal advice and Skeith was along for the ride. Talk about a bumpy ride for Skeith.
Merle told me that he talked to the Federal Prosecutor and asked, after reading the indictment, exactly what crimes did Andrew Skeith commit? The prosecutor said you’ll see.
Well, after two weeks of trial, the prosecution rested and Merle, persuaded Judge Cauthron to dismiss all 62 charges against Skeith. The judge called for a conference after the Prosecutor rested and asked out loud: Looking at the prosecutor, can you tell me specifically what crime, Andrew Skeith committed? In reaction, the Prosecutor produced a transcript and volumes of evidence which the Judge rejected.
Merle told me that he had to do a lot of investigation, and use all of the skills learned at the Ranch on the Government witnesses. He interviewed as many of the witnesses as would talk to him and found out that they did not feel that Skeith had done anything wrong. Well, Merle asked every witness, when they were on the witness stand, that he was confident would not burn Skeith, if they felt that Skeith did anything wrong. They all said no, Skeith didn’t figure in to any of the charges. Agents for the government in an attempt to ensnare Skeith gave Skeith money to spread around which he did. Well done Merle.
I certainly had my doubts when Merle told me about the case because the dollars involved were very large for buying political influence and normally, Oklahomans enjoy a political spectacle before burning a politician. I thought for sure, one out of the 62 charges would stick but none did. Skeith walked out a free man. After the Defense had its turn, Martin was found not guilty on all charges, but Morgan had one charge of bribery stick on him. He faces 10 years.
Here is a bit of a story published in the Daily Oklahoman:
Judge in Mike Morgan trial drops all of case against Oklahoma lobbyist, part of case against attorney
An Oklahoma City federal judge refused to dismiss a bribery case against former Senate leader Mike Morgan. The judge threw out all counts against longtime lobbyist Andy Skeith and 33 of the counts against prominent attorney Martin Stringer.
BY NOLAN CLAY firstname.lastname@example.org Oklahoman
Published: February 24, 2012
A judge Friday dismissed all of a political corruption case against longtime Oklahoma lobbyist Andy Skeith and half of the case against prominent attorney Martin Stringer because of insufficient evidence.
U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled after prosecutors rested their case on the ninth day of the jury trial in federal court in Oklahoma City.
“You’re free to go,” the judge told Skeith immediately after ruling.
The judge dismissed all of the 62 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and extortion against the lobbyist and 33 of the 62 counts against Stringer. Both were accused of involvement in conspiracies to bribe Morgan.
Morgan still faces the same 62 counts, plus an additional count of bribery.
Prosecutors may have to drop one of the two conspiracy counts against Morgan because of the judge’s ruling. The trial for Morgan and Stringer resumes Monday.
After the ruling, Skeith told reporters he planned to “sleep the sleep of the redeemed” Friday night.
Defense attorneys Warren Gotcher and Merle Gile told reporters Skeith was fired by all his lobbying clients after being indicted. Gile estimated Skeith made about $250,000 a year as a lobbyist.
“My guess is I’ll never step back in the state Capitol again,” Skeith said. “There are other things to do in life that don’t put you or your family in jeopardy. Nothing is worth this, nothing. I’d rather pick weeds for a living.”