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Sentencing scheduled for Oklahoma tea party leader

Sentencing scheduled for Oklahoma tea party leader

CREATED Aug 19, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party is scheduled to be sentenced on felony blackmail and computer crimes convictions.

Al Gerhart is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court. Gerhart faced up to five years in prison on each count, but the 12-member jury that convicted him in May recommended that he not serve any prison time and pay a $1,000 fine.

Gerhart was accused of sending a politically charged email to a state senator who testified he felt threatened by its tone. The March 2013 email warned Sen. Cliff Branan that if he didn't take up a bill favored by Gerhart's political group, that Gerhart would make sure he regretted that decision.

Defense attorneys argued the email was political speech protected by the First Amendment. 

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