Grand Jury Looking Into Gene Stipe's Finances

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 6:31 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A federal grand jury reconvened in Muskogee Wednesday. The probe is part of a a federal investigation of ex-lawmakers profiting off money they steered to economic development entities.

Records show former state Senator Gene Stipe, his former business partner, Steve Phipps, and ex-House members Mike Mass, Randall Erwin and Jerry Hefner are principals in the investigation.

Federal officials allege Stipe and Phipps had an interest in National Pet Products Incorporated and worked with state lawmakers to obtain state funds for the business.

The FBI says that between 2002 and 2004, Mass and Erwin steered at least $1.9 million to the nonprofit Rural Development Foundation and the pet food enterprise and Hefner got $330,000 for the projects.

Attempts to contact Hefner, Erwin and Mass for comment were unsuccessful.

Stipe also has been accused of pumping as much as $34,600 into Oklahoma Congressman Dan Boren's 2004 primary campaign.