Judge Postpones Revocation Hearing For Stipe

Friday, October 12th 2007, 6:20 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A federal judge on Friday postponed next week's probation revocation hearing for ex state Senator Gene Stipe. But U.S. District Judge Ronald White ordered a hearing to begin Monday on a second motion to delay a hearing on Stipe's mental competency.

In a two-page order, White wrote that "common sense dictates a delay" in the probation revocation issue, which was scheduled to begin after the mental competency hearing.

U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said he agrees with the judge's decision.

Clark Brewster, Stipe's attorney, said he believes a delay in the mental competency hearing also is warranted to provide him time to respond to a lengthy report received this week from a doctor at a medical facility for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

"I don't think a federal court would hold a hearing on issues as important as this without giving the defense an opportunity to see the testing data and have an opportunity to understand it," Brewster said.

Brewster said he expected Stipe, 80, to be present at Monday's hearing unless he is "bedfast or hospitalized." He said Stipe has been "very ill."

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

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 Stipe's court hearing date was approaching.

In an earlier order, the judge said that "Mr. Stipe made the motion to begin treatment, not his physician."

In September, Stipe spent 11 days at Springfield for tests after the judge questioned Stipe's mental health. White said the defendant appeared to be either on drugs or hypnotized during an August 28 hearing.

Stipe was placed on probation until 2009 after pleading guilty to illegally funneling more than $245,000 into Walt Roberts' 1998 failed congressional campaign.

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

Aside from the probation issue, Stipe has been charged with four felonies in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury. He and his brother, Francis, are accused of mail fraud, witness tampering, conspiracy and money laundering. They face a court hearing Wednesday in federal court in Muskogee on those charges.

Part of the scheme, the indictment alleges, involved a $48,000 kickback to ex-state Representative Mike Mass, who has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and is cooperating with the government.

Sperling said the indictment also includes a conspiracy allegation involving an attempt to recoup $50,000 Gene Stipe provided to Roberts' campaign.

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4/1/2003 Former State Senator Gene Stipe Pleads 'Guilty' In Federal Court

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6/7/2007 Government Seeks Probation Revocation For Stipe

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6/27/2007 Ex-Stipe Business Partner Pleads Guilty

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10/5/2007 Former State Senator Indicted

More Legal Trouble For A Former Senator
KOTV - 10/5/2007