Guilty Plea From Former City Of Tulsa Employee

Tuesday, April 7th 2009, 6:06 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- One of the contractors who was indicted in a federal bribery investigation at the City of Tulsa pleaded guilty on Tuesday and agreed to help the U.S. Attorney prosecute the others.

This is the first case to be resolved and indicates that authorities plan to use the man's testimony to get to the rest of the players, including the man who authorities say took bribes to influence who got city contracts.

01/23/2009  Related Story: Indictments Halt 50 Tulsa Street Projects

The U.S. Attorney says Larry Baker has pleaded guilty to paying bribes to a city employee.  Baker could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The investigation began with a tip to the FBI.

"I find it quite appalling and it disgusts me when a public official betrays the trust and confidence of the citizens of the U.S.," said the FBI's James Finch.

Authorities say the bribe from Baker went Albert Martinez who is now a former public works field supervisor who had influence over which contractors got city business.

Martinez faces the most charges as the common link between the city and the contractors who wanted the work.

This first case to result in a plea involves an inspection contract for the widening of 36th Street North from the Osage County line to Cincinnati Avenue.  A $9,000 bribe was paid for the deal.

The indictments led the City of Tulsa to stop work on almost 50 projects that involved contractors named in the investigation.  Projects like the widening and stabilization of Fred Creek through the ORU campus remain stopped.

In that case, a new contractor is being hired to complete the work.

Baker's plea deal stipulates he pay $134,000 in restitution and help authorities prosecute the others, who face trial in September.

Baker will be sentenced in July.

The City of Tulsa has not responded to the new developments in the case, but it's a daily discussion at city hall.

On Tuesday, the city council spent time discussing the projects that were delayed by the investigation.  Some of those projects will be restarted with new contractors within the month.