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Missouri’s longest-serving House speaker acquitted of bribery

June 9, 1997

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Former Missouri House speaker Bob Griffin was acquitted Monday on three bribery counts alleging he accepted $61,000 for promoting a friend’s consulting business.

The jury deadlocked on six other counts against Griffin, the state’s longest-serving House speaker. One codefendant was acquitted of all three counts against him, while two others were convicted on several charges.

Prosecutors alleged that Griffin and co-defendant Michael Fisher, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, helped steer lobbying contracts to political consultant Cathryn M. Simmons from 1992 until 1994.

Griffin, speaker of the House from 1981 until he quit in January 1996, contended the $61,000 was earned by legitimate legal and political consulting services for his one-man law office.

Simmons, 50, was convicted on 18 of 20 counts against her, including one count of racketeering, as well as bribery and mail fraud charges.

Fisher, 40, was convicted of racketeering and mail fraud and two counts of bribery.

Defendant Steven Hurst, a lobbyist described as a liaison for Simmons and Griffin, was acquitted of all three counts against him _ one of racketeering and two of bribery.

Against Griffin, the jury deadlocked on one count of racketeering, three counts of bribery and two counts of mail fraud. U.S. Attorney Steven Hill said Griffin, 61, will be retried on those charges. Griffin had no comment on the verdicts.

If convicted of all charges, Griffin could have been sentenced to a maximum of 90 years in prison.

One juror said panel members saw no contradiction in convicting Simmons and Fisher of bribing Griffin while acquitting him of accepting bribes.

``We felt that he was a man with a lot of power and they were using him,″ Suzzette Williams said.

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