State auditor resigns after felony conviction

Monday, June 16th 2008, 11:04 am
By: News 9

State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan resigned Monday after being convicted this weekend of conspiracy and taking bribes.

"It is with sadness and regret that I resign my position as Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector effective immediately," McMahan wrote in a letter released by the govenor's office.

A federal jury in Muskogee on Saturday convicted McMahan and his wife, Lori, each on one count of conspiracy and two counts of violating the Travel Act to commit bribery. The couple, who live in Tecumseh, remain free on bond pending a pre-sentencing investigation, which is expected to take between 6 and 8 weeks.

The maximum sentence on all counts is 15 years in prison, but U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said preliminary sentencing guideline calculations indicate a more likely sentence range of closer to 10 years for Jeff McMahan and 5 years for his wife.

"The reason for the disparity is because he's a public official, he's held to a higher standard," Sperling said.

The top prosecutor for the U.S. District Court's Eastern District, Sperling said no one in his office took pleasure in prosecuting the couple or seeing McMahan resign from office.

"It was appropriate, given the circumstances," Sperling said of McMahan's resignation. "But nobody here is jumping up and down."

Following the conviction McMahan was automatically suspended without pay. Deputy State Auditor Michelle Day has been serving in McMahan's role since he stepped aside on the day of his arraignment in January.

Gov. Brad Henry said he will begin the process of appointing a new auditor, said Paul Sund, spokesman for the governor's office.

"Gov. Henry believes it is critical to restore public trust in the auditor's position, and he will move carefully and as expeditiously as possible to select an individual who can do just that," Sund said.

House Speaker Chris Benge (R-Tulsa) said McMahan's decision to resign eliminated the need for impeachment proceedings.

"I am pleased Mr. McMahan did the honorable thing for the people of Oklahoma and decided to step down today," Benge said in a statement. "The House will now not have to have an expensive and redundant impeachment process that would have cost the taxpayers money."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.