TULSA — County District 3 Receiving Agent Cindy Rash took the stand Tuesday in the first day of testimony in the federal trial for her former boss Randy Baldridge, a former Rogers County commissioner.

Rash testified she filled out documents and even signed her husband’s name to time sheets “because Randy told me to.”

U.S. Attorney Joseph Wilson, asked Rash, “Why aren’t you on trial?”

She replied, “For truthfully testifying and telling what happened.”

Baldridge’s court appointed attorney Kevin Adams, addressing the jury in his opening statement, denied corruption on his client’s behalf, saying, “It’s not true.”

Adams admitted that Baldridge might have been a poor manager who “trusted people too much.”

“Randy Baldridge might have been a bad supervisor, but he’s not a crook,” Adams said. “(Baldridge) may have hired some people he shouldn’t have been hiring — friends and family,”

In the courtroom, Baldridge’s aunt, Rose Ann McCaw Ransom sat through hours of jury selection, opening arguments, and testimony in support of her nephew.

The 12-person jury, comprised of six men and six women, listened intently at first, then seemed to drift away at times as prosecutors dredged through piles of documents laying the groundwork for their case including charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and mail fraud.

First on the stand was Rogers County Clerk Peggy Armstrong, who verified multiple documents for the prosecution and explained the procedures of county purchasing, starting with purchase orders that encumber or set aside monies that will come due after the work is done.

Armstrong authenticated several purchase orders in question, including four to Rash’s husband Brian Rash, one to contractor Brad Jones, one to Baldridge’s friend Joseph Bentz, and one to Bellco Materials.

Armstrong said once work is complete, the receiving agent forwards a report to the county clerk for payment issued in the form of a warrant or check. In the case of most of the transactions in question, Rash acted as the receiving agent.

As the second witness for the prosecution, Rash testified that she was hired primarily because of her friendship with Baldridge’s sister.

Rash, who stated she had been unemployed for a year and badly needed a job, said she had no real experience or qualifications and received no formal education for the job other than training by Barney Howard, the prior receiving agent.

Rash alleged that payments issued to husband Brian Rash for “tractor” work were at Baldridge’s orders and that, in one case, the former commissioner had her endorse and cash a $1,600 check to her husband, then turn the money over to Baldridge as a loan.

“I didn’t like it because we needed that money,” she told the court Monday. She further testified that Baldridge has never repaid the loan and no paperwork was done to document the exchange of money.

Sometimes confused and forgetful about dates and figures, sometimes seemingly confident and sure of her facts, Rash stated that she had not been offered a deal by federal prosecutors.

Rash admitted having signed her husband’s name to documents. In one case Rash claimed she cancelled a purchase order because the work hadn’t been done and she feared Baldridge would have her “send it through” the system for payment.

Two invoices, one for Jones and one for Bentz, were also prepared by Rash, according to her testimony. She stated Baldridge had instructed her to make out the invoices for his “friends” who needed them for some work they had done.

The invoice for Jones was billed to Robert “Bob” Portiss, whose driveway was allegedly paved as part of a county road paving project.

The invoice for Bentz was for work he had performed for the county on Dog Creek Bridge consisting of concrete work.

Adams stated in his opening statement that when interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006, Bentz originally told agents he had performed the work for which the county was billed. However, allegedly, he later recanted.

“It wasn’t until one year later that (Joseph) Bentz told his wife he hadn’t done the work,” Adams told the jury.

When Rash was asked if she thought there was something wrong with the county preparing invoices for individuals conducting business, she said, “Yes, but Randy told me to.”

Rash’s testimony was interrupted Monday shortly after 5 p.m. and continues today when the prosecution plans to introduce taped phone calls between Rash and Baldridge into evidence. The defense has not yet had the chance to cross-examine her.

The list of expected prosecution witnesses includes alleged coconspirators, Brian Rash and road foreman, Bruce Long.

Federal agents conducting the investigation previously named both men as “unindicted coconspirators.”

See noon edition of the Daily Progress for daily coverage of the trail proceedings.