User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law: Corrupt government official goes to prison, public confidence restored

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Corrupt government official goes to prison, public confidence restored

Corruption in Government Stopped
Bribery in public works project cost city employee 44 months in prison and $134,000

What is the difference between the US system of justice and that found south of the border? Keeping our public service employees honest is the key to stop the corrosive effects of bribery and corruption. Larry Wayne Baker got 44 months for violating the public trust of citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"La multa, or the “fine” gets you out of a lot of scrapes"

La multa, or the “fine” gets you out of a lot of scrapes in Mexico. Get into trouble, pull out the right amount of cash, and you go free.  Major construction projects have gone bankrupt because contractors and developers could not pay enough of the "multa" to keep their project going.  Corruption has gotten so bad in Mexico visitors are often charged with crimes they did not do. To stay out of the pokey, they have to belly up huge fines and bribes. The corrosion of the Mexican justice system has destroyed many lives and the public confidence.

While a tourist might be able to pull out $500 bucks to stay out of jail, what happens to the dirt poor Mexican national who can’t pay huge fines? He gets no justice. When crime is committed against a poor person in Mexico he has no remedy. If he calls the police the guy with the bucks wins the argument. Hence, the corruption has driven a huge wedge dividing the poor from the rich.
"He would have to pay extra fees to employees of various government agencies to get a building permit, or to solve a traffic problem" 
If such a system were to pass in the US, the problem would be for the guy making a middle class income. He would have to pay extra fees to employees of various government agencies to get a building permit, or to solve a traffic problem. When it comes to a big dispute, the super rich win, and the middle income guy has no remedy in court. How could he if the judges are corrupt?

We applaud the actions of the FBI in catching and prosecuting Larry Wayne Baker who was charged in January 2009 for his part in a bribery scheme in the award of an inspection contract. Baker, along with Harlen Yocham of Yocham Enterprises, Max Wolf, president of Horizon Construction, Kenneth Shoemaker, president of FBS, Inc, Stewart Franklin, an accountant for FBS, Inc. as well as Albert Martinez, another city employee, were implicated.  The indictment of four businessmen and two tulsa city employees    All of the defendants have pled guilty to charges related to bribery.  Two men have yet to be sentenced and must be sweating in their boots as they see their co-conspirators getting prison sentences. 

Baker is accused of taking part in a scheme in which he paid  $9,000 starting in November of 2006 to influence the vote of a city employee in awarding a lucrative contract.
In addition to having the opportunity to defend his virginity in the State motel, Baker will forfeit assets in the amount of $134,000 to repay the City of Tulsa. While we do not support asset forfeiture, we do applaud the requirement for repayment of sums stolen or diverted for private gain.

City employee Albert Martinez, was sentenced to three and a half years on August 28th, 2009.  News on 6 press report  He pled guilty to charges of Bribery Conspiracy, Mail Fraud Conspiracy and Procurement Fraud.  Why he appears to have done more in the schemen to defraud tax payers but received less time in prision than Baker is not known.  He was ordered to make restitution to the City of Tulsa in the amount of $341,000 and has forfeited assets in the amount of $217,000 in that effort. 
"Baker found out about the criminal charges against him on the radio" 
The 6 defendants first learned their scheme to defraud the good people of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was going to end in disaster on January 22nd, 2009. You can imagine the lump in their throats when former U.S. Attorney David E. O’Meilia made the announcement.  Baker found out about the criminal charges against him when he heard it on the radio.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge James E. Finch, and IRS Criminal Investigations Division Special Agent-in-Charge Michael P. Lahey made the allegations to a grand jury. The Grand Jury agreed, two former managers at the City of Tulsa Public Works Department and four area businessmen should be indicted for the bribery scheme. This was no small theft, the six plotted to steal millions of dollars intended for city streets, bridges and other public works projects in the City of Tulsa.
"For years we have heard about "deals" you can get if you have the right amount of money"

All attorneys want to do a great job for their clients.  For years we have heard about "deals" you can get at the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles if you have the right amount of money or know the right person, or ways of passing the US/Mexico border if you have an in with the right Border Patrol officer.  

While we, as attorneys want to do a great job, paying public employees to break the rules is offensive to us, as it destroys our system of justice and turns good legal work into getting the client with the most amount of money.  No thanks!  Fortunately, those responsible for giving driver's licenses for a fee in Colorado were caught and prosecuted.  We have heard the same has happened in the US Border Patrol.  Now, Tulsa Oklahoma is free of one more rat.

Larry Wayne Baker is 53 years old. He will be 58 when he gets out of prison. Perhaps he will serve as a good example to others that public corruption will not be tolerated in the US system of justice or public service. We, as a society, do not give preferences based upon bribes, the wealthy don’t get jobs because of insider favors or payment of sums to those whose responsibility is to keep the public trust.

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