Stipe Says He Is Competent On Eve Of Prison Examination

Sunday, September 9th 2007, 6:44 pm
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Former state Sen. Gene Stipe, who is scheduled to report to a federal prison hospital in Missouri on Monday for a court-ordered mental health evaluation, says he is not mentally incompetent.

``I don't think there's any question about my competency,'' Stipe said. ``I resent the insinuation that I'm incompetent because I'm involved in (oil) businesses that require competency. I borrow money, and banks depend on my judgment.''

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. White ordered the evaluation and said in his order that Stipe appeared drugged or hypnotized at an Aug. 28 probation revocation hearing and seemed to need prompting from his attorneys before answering questions from the judge.

``I don't know how I can look any better. I thought I had my best suit on. I thought I had my best face on,'' said Stipe, 80. ``I looked the best I could. If he said he thought I was ugly, I would understand.''

Stipe's defense attorneys also asked for a medical expert to evaluate his physical and mental health, but that was in an effort to show what bad condition he was in at the time of the alleged probation violations.

Stipe's attorneys appealed the order to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which on Thursday issued a temporary emergency stay. The court later dissolved the stay and ordered Stipe to report to the U.S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., by noon Monday.

Stipe defended his mental competency in separate interviews with the Tulsa World and the McAlester News-Capital.

``I have no objection to going up there and letting them examine me,'' Stipe said. ``I've been seen by a neurosurgeon for months now, who says I'm competent.''

Stipe noted that one of his defense attorneys, Michael Burrage, is the former U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

``If he thought I was incompetent, he would be the first to tell the judge,'' Stipe said.

John Gotti and Larry Flynt are among the famous people who have spent time at the monolithic U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. Stipe is supposed to be there for no more than 30 days. If he's found to be competent, the revocation hearing could resume.

He's accused of violating the terms of his probation for continuing to associate with a convicted felon and funneling money illegally into Democratic candidates' campaigns through so-called ``straw donors.''

But Stipe blames his estranged business partner Steven Phipps for the straw donor scheme. He said Phipps took his money from the abstract companies they co-owned and invested it in a dog food plant and didn't tell him about it.

Phipps and former state Rep. Mike Mass, D-Hartshorne, have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with an alleged Stipe scheme to funnel state money to companies he and Phipps controlled and reward legislators with kickbacks.

Phipps and Mass have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for lighter sentences. Stipe appears to be prosecutors' main focus. A federal grand jury met Thursday and Friday but has not yet returned any indictments.

``I don't think I'll be indicted, but if I am, I can absolutely defend myself,'' Stipe said. ``I absolutely did not do any of that.''

Stipe is on probation for felony convictions related to a campaign fraud scandal. Stipe pleaded guilty in 2003 to using ``straw donors'' to exceed contribution limits in the 1998 congressional campaign of Walt Roberts.

Federal prosecutors say Stipe's probation should be revoked on grounds he engaged in a similar ``straw donor'' campaign finance scandal shortly after his sentencing in 2004 and that he continued to associate with another convicted felon, Steve Covington, after they were ordered not to associate with each other.

Related Stories

3/7/2007 FBI Searches Offices Of Gene Stipe

3/9/2007 Stipe Investigated In Alleged 'Straw Donor' Scheme

3/14/2007 Grand Jury Looking Into Gene Stipe's Finances

3/21/2007 Stipe Business Will Be Run By A Neutral Party

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

4/8/2007 State Charges Possible In Alleged Campaign Scheme

4/18/2007 Jurisdiction Of Stipe Case Transferred To Muskogee

4/23/2007 Newspaper Says Gene Stipe Benefits From Train Sale To State

6/7/2007 Government Seeks Probation Revocation For Stipe

6/13/2007 Former City Manager Expected Before Stipe Grand Jury

6/23/2007 Attorney: Stipe's Business Partner To Plead Guilty To Conspiracy

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

6/28/2007 Gene Stipe Stays Out Of Prison For Now

8/27/2007 Gene Stipe Due In Court Tuesday

8/28/2007 Mental Health Test Ordered For Gene Stipe

9/4/2007 Attorneys Seek To Divert Stipe From Springfield

9/6/2007 Stipe Won't Have To Go Immediately To Federal Medical Unit

9/7/2007 Stipe Heading To Missouri Prison Hospital