Gus Blackwell Receives Stay On Hearings
Joe Denoyer - September 1, 2016 11:56 am
In a filing from Aug. 8 with the Oklahoma County District Court, an agreement to stay civil case proceedings pending the completion of the related criminal proceedings was granted.
The filing states that Blackwell has invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in the civil proceedings against him by the ethics commission. The document further states, “the Defendant is placed in the untenable position of being forced to choose between the assertion of his constitutional rights or a certain examination of alleged facts giving rise to the criminal Information.”
The charges against Blackwell stem from allegations of using campaign funds for personal purposes, a failure to report campaign expenditures, knowingly filing false campaign reports and submitting false documents to the ethics commission. The same allegations are made against him in both the civil and criminal proceedings in Oklahoma County district court.
The filing goes on to state, “Here, there is no strong public interest in proceeding expeditiously with this case.”
Blackwell continues to maintain his innocence of any wrongdoing, according to court documents, and has invoked his constitutional rights under the advisement of legal counsel.
On Aug. 16, a document filed shows that the Oklahoma Ethics Commission has agreed to allow Blackwell to be relieved of the 10 day response period, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.
Blackwell faced an ethics commission investigation in March under allegations that he “double-dipped” on expense reimbursements during his time in office. Charges include 44 criminal counts for the embezzlement of $23,741 in campaign funds, for sales per diem claims against the state for overnight stays that did not take place and committing perjury on eight campaign reports. He is accused of misuse of campaign funds, failing to report all contributions and expenses, knowingly filing false campaign reports and submitting faked documents to cover his wrongdoing during an investigation.
Blackwell did not take a plea deal in May that would have allowed him to fully avoid jail time. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence. The ethics commission is requesting that Blackwell be ordered to pay the state treasury at least $60,000 in civil penalties for violating ethics rules and another $14,398 in restitution for missing campaign funds, as well as returning money to donors for unreported contributions, or pate the state treasury another $8,271.
Blackwell’s preliminary hearing conference was scheduled to take place yesterday. A continuance for the preliminary hearing has been granted, and will take place on Dec. 2. – See more at: http://www.guymondailyherald.com/content/blackwell-receives-stay-hearings-ethics-commission#sthash.XpKEEgpt.dpuf