Neural Psychologist Finds Stipe Mentally Incompetent

Monday, October 15th 2007, 7:06 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- A neural psychologist for the federal prison system has found ex-state Senator Gene Stipe mentally incompetent. U.S. District Judge Ronald White disclosed the finding at a hearing Monday at the federal courthouse in Muskogee.

Defense attorney Clark Brewster has argued Stipe is competent and requested time to evaluate the findings of prison psychologist Robert Denney.

White granted a continuance in the mental competency hearing until November 5.

Stipe, 80, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair and watched Monday's proceedings intently. After the hearing, he disputed the psychologist's conclusion.

"I don't think I'm incompetent, no I don't," Stipe said. "The bankers don't think I am either. They loan me money. I operate 3,500 oil and gas properties."

The longtime lawmaker from McAlester also faces an arraignment in Muskogee on Wednesday on four felony counts in a federal grand jury indictment.

Stipe and his brother, Francis, are accused of mail fraud, conspiracy, witness tampering and money laundering.

White ordered Stipe to be tested in Springfield, Missouri, after an August hearing in which the judge said Stipe appeared to be either hypnotized or on drugs.

The defense had sought to postpone Monday's hearing because Stipe was scheduled to undergo chemotherapy that day for prostate cancer.

In an order issued Friday, White said he did not minimize Stipe's "manifest" health problems, but said it was a "remarkable happenstance" that Stipe's chemotherapy treatments were being initiated just as Monday's court hearing date was approaching.

Stipe was placed on probation until 2009 after pleading guilty to illegally funneling more than $245,000 into Walt Roberts' 1998 failed congressional campaign. That case led to him to resign from the Legislature in 2003 after 53 years.

Prosecutors contend Stipe took part in another illegal campaign scheme in 2004 and also violated his parole by associating with a felon.

Stipe and his brother were indicted on October 5 in an alleged conspiracy linked to a real estate deal, a pet food company and legislative appropriations funneled through economic development entities.

Steve Phipps, a former business partner of Gene Stipe, has been charged in the case and is cooperating with the government.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy to give a $48,000 kickback to ex-state Representative Mike Mass, who has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and is cooperating with the government. Mass is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said the conspiracy is tied to an alleged attempt to recoup money Gene Stipe provided to Roberts' campaign.

Watch the video: Stipe Found Mentally Incompetent

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