Indicted Rogers County Commissioner Randy Baldridge was still on the campaign trail Tuesday evening despite his arraignment in U.S. District Court on fraud and conspiracy charges earlier in the afternoon.

Baldridge entered a not guilty plea in U.S. District Court to nine counts.

Charges have been leveled against the 38-year-old county commissioner of 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 commissioner of a federal offense and aiding and abetting.

Two federal agents, with the assistance of two Claremore Police officers, arrested Baldridge Tuesday morning at the Rogers County Courthouse.

A trial will take place later this year. Baldridge said his attorney advised him the trial could take place some time in November.

The General Election is Nov. 7. Currently, Baldridge is the Democratic nominee for the District 3 seat, and will be up against lone Republican candidate Kirt Thacker on the November ballot.

Baldridge said he does not plan to give up the fight for his seat.

“I’m still going to work and I will still run for the general election,” he said Tuesday evening. “Rogers County is where I live and where I want to be. I’m not going anywhere.”

Due to financial constraints, Baldridge was appointed an attorney by U.S. Magistrate Sam Joyner. However, Joyner added that at the conclusion of the case, if the court finds Baldridge is able to pay for the attorney’s services, he will be ordered to reimburse the government.

Baldridge had made arrangements to have Dan Webber, Jr., a former U.S. attorney from the Western District represent him, but “couldn’t afford him.” On Tuesday, court-appointed Tulsa attorney Kevin Adams represented Baldridge.

Commissioner Baldridge, who makes $51,375 annually in the elected post, said he depleted his personal savings account after paying Webber nearly $10,000.

“(Webber) told me it would take as much as $100,000 to defend the case. I don’t have that kind of money, even if I sold everything I own,” Baldridge said.

There has been talk among supporters of establishing a defense fund.

Baldridge’s arrest comes after a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which began in March. According to officials, federal agents came to Rogers County and requested documents from Baldridge’s office at the District 3 Warehouse off Highway 66. Since that time, federal officials have kept the nature of the investigation, including any possible charges that were to be filed, under wraps. FBI officials have, however, confirmed members of their office were in Rogers County at that time.

Baldridge was released from federal custody on a $5,000 unsecured bond following the hearing Tuesday. U.S. Assistant Attorney Joe Wilson requested a special condition to be added to Baldridge’s release.

“We have no objection to his release on conditions,” Wilson said. “One concern reflected in the last two counts of the indictment allege witness tampering and we ask that (Baldridge) refrain from contacting government witnesses or potential witnesses. Some of the witnesses are known by the defendant.”

In fact, two of the witnesses for the government are employees of District 3 — former road foreman Bruce Long and secretary Cindy Rash.

Kevin Adams, attorney for Baldridge, asked that communication stay open between Baldridge and the two employees.

“The direction of the court is that he not discuss with them the charges that are pending, at any time in any way,” Joyner said.

Long and Rash were included in the indictment as coconspirators.

Long, who was a Democratic candidate in the primary election for the District 3 Commissioner seat, has had his own run-in with the law.

According to court records, kidnapping and assault and battery charges were filed against Long in Rogers County in 1997. The kidnapping charge was dismissed, and Long entered a guilty plea to assault and battery in November 1997.

Other charges filed against Long included outraging public decency in 1998; transporting an open container, beer in 1999; and driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor in 2001. Court records reflect Long pleaded guilty to the 1998 and 2001 charges, but the 1999 charge of transporting an open container was dismissed with court costs.

The charges

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.

Allegations date back to July 2004.

In four instances the indictment cites the use of "contract labor" to perform "ditching, boxblade, [and] fence cleaning" on property owned by Baldridge's sister.

Another instance in Court documents indicates county property was diverted to pave a private driveway for Tulsa Port of Authority Director Bob Portiss who lives just off county-maintained Ray Davis Road.

Court records indicate, Baldridge contacted Portiss in September 2005 advising him a contractor was in the area of his residence paving a county road. The allegations state Baldridge offered that the driveway could be paved with asphalt for a cost of $3,000 and offered to have the county contractor “do it.” In the alleged kickback scheme, Portiss paid coconspirator Brad Jones. Jones then deposited the $3,000 into a personal checking account. Funds were then withdrawn in cash and given to Long. Jones received $300 for his services, and Long reportedly gave a Bellco employee a $200 fee. Long then allegedly gave the remaining $2,500 to Baldridge.

Baldridge also accused of attempting to persuade two witnesses not to talk with investigators including Brian Rash, husband of Cindy Rash, who also worked as a contractor with the county, along with Joseph C. Bentz, a friend of Baldridge.