Former State Rep & Businessman Headed To Prison

Wednesday, May 27th 2009, 7:55 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, OK -- A federal judge in Muskogee has sentenced former state lawmaker Mike Mass to two years in prison for his role in a kickback scheme.

Mass and Kiowa businessman Steve Phipps had both pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. 

The judge also sentenced Phipps to 1 year and 1 day in prison.

According to federal prosecutors, it was a 'pay to play' scheme, where businessmen donated money to campaigns and reaped the rewards once the politician got in office.  But the house of cards came falling down once businessman Steve Phipps started talking.

In 2007, Phipps admitted he paid three legislators thousands of dollars in kickbacks. 

In return, those state legislators pushed state taxpayer money toward his companies. 

Phipps was a business partner of former state senator Gene Stipe.

When Phipps entered his guilty plea, he also helped prosecutors convict former state representative Mike Mass. 

6/27/2007 Related story: Ex-Stipe Business Partner Pleads Guilty

Mass pleaded guilty to his felony corruption charge more than two years ago. 

4/13/2007 Related story: Former Lawmaker Pleads Guilty 

Prosecutors say Phipps has broken an apparent code of silence in political corruption and is helping bring others to justice. 

More than two-dozen people, including country singer Reba McEntire, have written letters asking the judge show leniency to Phipps. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.