A state representative was accused Friday in a grand jury indictment of misusing his power to change the law so his wife could become a tag agent.
Terry O’Donnell is charged in the indictment with five felonies and three misdemeanors. “He denies any wrongdoing,” his attorney, Mack Martin, said.
His wife, Teresa O’Donnell, faces three felonies and one misdemeanor.
The most severe offense, conspiracy against the state, has a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
An Oklahoma County grand jury returned the indictment Friday.
O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, is the second highest-ranking member of the House.
He introduced a bill in 2019 that allowed spouses of legislators to serve as tag agents.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission appointed his wife to take over the Catoosa Tag Agency on Aug. 1, 2019, three months after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law.
The lawmaker told The Oklahoman last year he did not do anything wrong or inappropriate.
He said his wife had no intention of becoming a tag agent when he ran “this piece of legislation.” He said she sought the appointment after her mother died unexpectedly from pancreatic cancer.
Her mother, Georgia McAfee, had been in charge of the Catoosa Tag Agency for more than 40 years. Teresa O’Donnell had worked there for more than four years before her appointment.
Grand jurors alleged the two submitted a fraudulent application to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Commissioners were told she managed the daily operation of the office and supervised four clerks when she actually was only a part-time worker with no supervisory authority, grand jurors alleged.
Commissioners also were told they could check with her present supervisor about her job experience. At the time, McAfee was in hospice care, semi-conscious only from time to time and unable to answer any questions, according to the indictment.
In a statement Friday night, the legislator said “political operatives in Oklahoma City are using this to discredit our family’s character and destroy our reputation as a personal vendetta against me.”
“We will vigorously defend our integrity,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma Rep. Terry O’Donnell indicted on charges of misusing power