A plea offer from the federal government was rejected by outgoing Rogers County commissioner Randy Baldridge who faces multiple federal charges.
The District 3 commissioner, who now faces eight federal charges, rejected the plea offer last week that asked him to plead guilty to one count in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining seven charges.
“I would have committed perjury if I would have pleaded guilty, because I’m not,” Baldridge said. “And from what I understand, the judge could’ve taken into consideration the other charges when sentencing took place.”
Baldridge originally faced nine federal charges when the indictment was unsealed in August. However, a superseding indictment was filed Nov. 8, alleging five charges.
Count nine of the indictment was removed by the federal government, which alleged Baldridge “knowingly did corruptly persuade, and attempted to corruptly persuade, another person, Joseph C. Bentz, with intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer the United States ...”
According to Baldridge, in pleading guilty to count two — obtaining money and property by fraud and intentional misapplication
by agent of local government that receives benefits under federal programs — as part of the plea offer, he would have received at least a one year prison sentence.
Baldridge has pleaded not guilty to all eight counts, which include conspiracy, obtaining money and property by fraud and intentional misapplication by agent of local government that receives benefits under federal programs, mail fraud, money laundering, corruptly persuading another person with intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication to law enforcement officer of the United States of information relating to the commission of a federal offense and aiding and abetting.
The trial date for Baldridge was originally set for Dec. 18. However, Judge Terrance Kern moved the date to Jan. 16 at 9:30 a.m.
Charges revolve around a conspiracy in which county funds were expended for services and goods not received — some involving federal dollars — and diverting that money, in one instance, through the mail and making payment to coconspirators. Baldridge is also accused of aiding and abetting the scheme and attempting to persuade two witnesses to not talk with authorities.
Once the trial begins in January, Baldridge will not longer be seated as District 3 commissioner.
Baldridge lost his bid for re-election to Kirt Thacker in the Nov. 7 general election.