FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE AND AIDE TO FORMER OKLAHOMA STATE SENATOR SENTENCED IN CAMPAIGN FINANCE CONSPIRACY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Acting Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that Walter Lenn Roberts, 41, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Charlene Spears, 62, of Hartshorne, Oklahoma, were sentenced today before U.S. District Judge James Robertson for their roles in a conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and to obstruct a Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigation into the 1998 congressional race for Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District.
Judge Robertson sentenced Roberts, the congressional candidate, to two years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service. Spears, a personal assistant to former Oklahoma State Senator Gene Stipe, was sentenced to six months of home detention with electronic monitoring, three years probation, and 200 hours of community service.
Roberts pleaded guilty on March 5, 2003, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct the FEC, a felony, and one count of conspiracy to violate the FECA, a misdemeanor. The FECA charge is predicated on Roberts’ participation in a conspiracy to funnel over $200,000 of former State Senator Gene Stipe’s money into Roberts’ 1998 congressional campaign. Roberts took part in or was aware of a number of schemes devised to mask the true source of Stipe’s contributions, including the transfer of $20,500 to the campaign for a trailer sale that never occurred; the transfer of $17,000 from Stipe’s law firm to the campaign for advertising services by Roberts that Roberts never intended to perform; the transfer of $67,500 from Stipe to the campaign for the sale of cattle where no such sale took place; and the transfer of $55,000 to the campaign pursuant to an option contract that was in fact a sham.
The FEC investigated these fund-raising abuses, and the obstruction charge against Roberts stemmed from his efforts to provide the FEC with false sworn written and oral statements.
Spears pleaded guilty on March 21, 2003, to the same charges as Roberts. Spears coordinated an additional effort to recruit 20 individuals to make a total of 48 false contributions to the Roberts campaign, totaling over $40,000. Spears admits to reimbursing these 20 straw contributors using cash that she had obtained from Stipe and others.
Former Oklahoma State Senator Gene Stipe, and James E. Lane, the former Majority Leader of the Oklahoma State Senate, have entered guilty pleas in connection with this investigation, and await sentencing.
This case was prosecuted by trial attorneys Howard Sklamberg and Matthew Solomon of Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, U.S. Department of Justice, and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma City Division, after a criminal referral by the FEC.