Lawyer of businessman accuses Oklahoma attorney general of playing politics with probe - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Lawyer of businessman accuses Oklahoma attorney general of playing politics with probe

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson disagrees that politics has been behind an investigation of a Texas businessman suspected of bribing former Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher.

``The investigation is a year and a half old and there's no credible evidence against Gene Phillips and there won't be,'' his attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, said Friday. ``It's an election year.''

A multicounty grand jury, aided by Edmondson's assistant attorneys general, has been investigating Fisher for more than a year. Grand jurors meet two to three days a month; the next time is Tuesday.

Edmondson noted that the panel had been investigating the case long before it was an election year.

``There's no politics in it. We have run into obstacles ... in trying to get witnesses out of the state of Texas. ... It's been very frustrating,'' he said. ``I think this issue could have been resolved one way or another long before now if it hadn't been for the obstructionism of the defense attorneys.''

An Oklahoma County jury convicted Fisher last month of embezzling his own campaign funds and of perjury. He was sentenced to three years in prison but is out on bail while he appeals his conviction.

Fisher, 66, faces four other charges including bribery.

In the bribery case, Fisher is accused of corruptly accepting money and gifts from Phillips, Phillips' family and business associates. Prosecutors allege the bribes included a $25,000 check, about $20,000 in office furniture and $25,000 in campaign contributions.

Phillips hasn't been charged and denies bribing Fisher.

Jones said Phillips and others are available to be interviewed in Texas by investigators. Phillips already has been questioned twice, he said.

However, Jones said they will continue to resist appearing before the Oklahoma grand jury.

An attorney general investigator discussed the Phillips probe in a request to a Virginia judge to order a witness to appear before the grand jury.

``The fact that an individual has been accused of receiving bribes in no way ends the state multicounty grand jury investigation regarding the person or persons responsible for providing the bribes,'' investigator Daniel Prykryl wrote March 6. ``The providers of the bribes remain uncharged and at large. The state multicounty grand jury investigation is ongoing in that regard.''

The Virginia judge on Friday refused to order the witness to appear, Jones said.

Grand jurors want to question Ray Roberts Jr., Phillips' former pilot, about a $5,000 donation to Fisher in 1998, according to the investigator's affidavit.

Grand jurors are looking into whether Phillips or one of his companies gave Roberts the money to give to Fisher.

The attorney general investigator reported another donor, Ray Roberts Sr., wrote a $5,000 check Nov. 18, 1998, on the same day that donor deposited $5,000 from ``a company associated with Gene Phillips.''

Ray Roberts Sr. was identified as a Basic Capital Management executive and the father of Ray Roberts Jr.
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