Judge Orders Stipe To Be Sent To Hospital

Monday, November 5th 2007, 10:25 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- A judge on Monday ordered former state Senator Gene Stipe to a federal hospital to undergo further evaluation of his mental condition. Stipe is to be sent to a hospital for four months of evaluation. U.S. District Judge Ronald White said he would recommend that Stipe be sent to the prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

Stipe must surrender to federal authorities by noon on November 16 and be under house arrest until that time.

White said the evidence is overwhelming that Stipe is not mentally competent to participate in a parole revocation hearing that could determine whether he is sent to prison.

The judge's decision came after a psychologist testified that Stipe cannot recite the alphabet and has delusions that his home has been invaded.

Robert Denny, a neuropsychologist at the prison hospital in Missouri, where Stipe was sent previously, said a battery of tests showed the 81-year-old Stipe suffers from severe dementia and is mentally incompetent to sit through a lengthy court proceeding "and understand what is going on around him."

Stipe's competency must be determined in order for federal prosecutors to move forward with their attempt to revoke Stipe's probation.

Prosecutors assert Stipe violated his probation by allegedly participating in another election law violation and by associating with another convicted felon, Steve Covington - as recently as last week -- after both men were ordered not to associate with each other.

Denny said that at times Stipe is "very lucid" when talking about the law or about past events. But he said the former senator has frequent short-term memory lapses and has impaired cognitive functioning. He said Stipe had trouble with simple math, could not accurately recite the alphabet and believed his home had been invaded by storm troopers who had turned it into a prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gay Guthrie asked Denny if Stipe's mental capacity could be improved if he was returned to the prison hospital for treatment. The psychologist said that there is some chance that treatment for a thyroid disorder and eliminating some of the medicine Stipe is on could cause improvements that would allow Stipe to become competent.

"I'm not overly hopeful, but it's possible," Denny said.

Stipe served 53 years in the Legislature from McAlester before resigning and pleading guilty to breaking campaign laws by pumping $245,000 into the failed 1998 congressional campaign of former state Representative Walt Roberts.

Stipe and his brother, Francis, also have been indicted on federal conspiracy, witness tampering, money laundering and mail fraud charges.

Watch the video: Psychologist Says Stipe Has Severe Dementia And Is Mentally Incompetent

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