Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the Senate if I don't hear this bill will be heard and passed. We will dig into your past yoru (sic) family, your associates and once we start there will be no end to it. That is a promise.
Al Gerhart's email to Oklahoma state Senator Cliff Branan.
When Brother Al sent those words to the Senator, the ship known as the S.S. Gerhart almost immediately began taking on water. Branan passed a hard copy of the email to the Highway Patrol, who in turn gave it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. It finally landed on the desk of District Attorney David Prater. That was early in April last year.
The end game came yesterday when Gerhart was convicted of both blackmail and violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. The jury let him slide on the computer crime by neither fining him, or giving him a jail term, despite the conviction. He was hit with a $1,000 fine on the blackmail charge, but got off with no jail time once again. He was lucky. The maximum was a $15,000 fine and ten years worth of casual strolls in the yard of a Department of Corrections facility.
Gerhart, who bears a disturbing resemblance to Uncle Fester in the Addams family cartoons, was shocked by the decision. He was so confident of a favorable outcome that Tuesday, Nolan Clay of, The Oklahoman, reported our man, Al bragged in a Sooner Tea Party newsletter, he had turned down a plea bargain offered by the D.A's office. According to Gerhart, in exchange for a guilty plea on the blackmail rap, the computer crimes charge would be dropped, he'd receive no fine, get one year of unsupervised probation, and afterward, his record would be expunged.
When the judge asked assistant D.A. Scott Rowland about the deal, Rowland admitted an offer had been made, but only after one had been requested by the defendant's attorney. The negotiations were doomed because of two reasons. One was Al's ego, the other is why these clowns have repeatedly lost national and statewide elections--they steadfastly refuse to compromise with anyone. Gerhart told the judge he, "absolutely" rejected the deal. Hey, to do so he would have to admit guilt, which would mean he'd been wrong all along. Such an option is unacceptable to a man who claims free speech includes telling a press conference, "These politicians need to know that it doesn't end when their term is over. They need to know that their decisions are going to follow them the rest of their days."
Yes, well, there are a lot of things which follow people the rest of their days--a felony conviction being one of them.
Clay quoted Gerhart as saying the verdict, "...just chills free speech." Then, as always, the Moore carpenter, turned Tea Party honcho, attempted to portray himself as the protector of, The American Way.
According to Clay he also said, "Who is going to want to risk holding a politician accountable at this point? I lost a thousand dollars. I became a felon. I lost my voting rights. I lost my gun rights. I'm probably getting off easy compared to the rest of society though."
Some of society might disagree. When Gerhart's thuggery hit the news last year the comments section of Mike McCarville's conservative site, mccarvillereport.com filled up with observations about him such as these:
"I don't know what his agenda is or what he hopes to accomplish, aside from destruction."
He has slandered and libeled many, but narry (sic) gives it a thought. In essence he has no conscience to speak of."
There was more, but you catch the drift. And, as you might guess, those weren't wild eyed liberal types. They were right wing activists who, in theory, think the way he does.
Indeed, Mr. Gerhart has made enemies along his ruthless way, but most of them live and breathe on his side of the railroad tracks. He can howl he is being politically persecuted all he wants. However, in the final analysis, what got him to the spot he is in now are these words: Blackmail can involve any communication that threatens to expose information about someone which would in any way subject that person to the ridicule and contempt of society. It is blackmail if the communication is meant to extort or gain any thing of value from another, or compel another to do an act against his or her will.
The truth is the moment, Cliff Branan took the stand and said, "I know evil exists. It really scared me. He definitely was wanting me to do something I did not want to do," Al Gerhart's goose was cooked.
He had, in fact, broken the law as it is written--the jury, no matter what their political beliefs, couldn't ignore that simple fact.
sic vita est