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Former Oklahoma Senate Leader Must Be Resentenced, 10th Circuit Orders

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 10, 2015 5:59 AM

Michael Morgan, an Oklahoma attorney and former leader of the Oklahoma Senate was sentenced in 2012 to probation arising out of a charge bribery. Since the Tenth Circuit found that the punishment was "grossly at odds" with sentencing guidelines, he will now be resentenced. Basically, the Tenth Circuit determined that the lower court gave the defendant an easy pass.

When Michael Morgan was convicted for bribery, the jury acquitted him of about 60 other criminal counts. Morgan asked for a new trial alleging that the prosecution failed to disclose "tacit agreements" with a witness, insufficiency of evidence and failure to properly instruct the jury. Unfortunately for him, the 3 judge-panel disagreed and found that the jury's conviction of Morgan was based on sufficient factual evidence and further described the trial court's order of Morgan's probation as "little more than a slap on the wrist."

Bribes Disguised as Legal Fees

Morgan was originally indicted on charges that he took approximately $400,000 from several different companies, but found that he had sold his services in exchange for political influence to only one of those companies -- Silver Oak Senior Living -- ostensibly billed as "legal work." With regards to the approximately 60 counts, the jury did not reach a verdict. Morgan has consistently described the money in question as payment for legal services he performed for the companies.


In early 2013, U.S. District Judge Cauthron ordered that Morgan serve a five year probation. Morgan was also ordered to repay the $12,000 and serve community service. However, the judge imposed no punitive fines.


Morgan appealed for reasons outlined above. Not only did the Tenth Circuit affirm the conviction, but essentially ordered the lower court to impose a much harsher sentence on Morgan. In the words of two judges sitting at the Tenth Circuit, Morgan's conduct in the case "demands a significant period of incarceration." The U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats sounded pleased to hear that the case was being remanded back to the lower court for a harsher sentence. "[T]he sale of political influence be an elected official is simply not acceptable and corruption betrays the public trust," he said.

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