OK Tea Party Leader Convicted In Blackmail Case To Pay $1K Fine

Tuesday, August 19th 2014, 11:28 am
By: News 9

A judge has ordered the co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party, who is convicted of felony blackmail and computer crimes, to pay a $1,000 fine.

Al Gerhart was sentenced Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court. Gerhart faced up to five years in prison on each count, but the 12-member jury that convicted him in May recommended that he not serve any prison time and pay a $1,000 fine.

4/9/2013 Related Story: Arrest Warrant Issued For Sooner Tea Party Co-Founder Following Alleged Threats 

Tuesday afternoon, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott upheld the jury's recommendation. Gerhart will pay a $1,000 fine for the blackmail count, and will not pay a fine for the violation of computer act count. 

Gerhart was accused of sending a politically charged email to a state senator who testified he felt threatened by its tone. The March 2013 email warned Sen. Cliff Branan that if he didn't take up a bill favored by Gerhart's political group, that Gerhart would make sure he regretted that decision.

Defense attorneys argued the email was political speech protected by the First Amendment.