Windstream Accused of Bribing Oklahoma School Official

A state grand jury in Oklahoma has indicted Windstream Corp. of Little Rock for allegedly bribing a school superintendent in Oklahoma, and the telecommunications company has said it will "vigorously contest the charges."

According to the indictment, Windstream offered James David Sisney, then superintendent for the Broken Arrow School District, two all-session tickets to the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament in Atlanta. The gift included free lodging at Atlanta's Grand Hyatt Hotel, complementary food, beverages, souvenirs, local transportation and area entertainment.

Windstream supplied Internet services to the school district, and according to the indictment, the alleged bribe's purpose was to secure the continuation of the business relationship. The indictment says such gratuities were a violation of state law and of the express policy of the Broken Arrow Board of Education.

The indictment described the actions of several Windstream executives identified only by initials: D.W., M.W., C.K., M.O., E.B., R.W., B.H., C.K. and D.O. The latter three allegedly nominated top customers in their sales regions, such the Broken Arrow School District, who should be considered for invitations to the "Final Four Customer Appreciation event."

Witness lists filed with the indictments include the names of five Windstream employees, including some whose names match the initials in the indictments: Kristen Rankin, Matt Watson and Michael O'Bryan, all of Little Rock; Daniel D. Rice of Bixby, Okla.; and Cheryl Krueger of Lincoln, Neb. No individual Windstream employees were charged with any crime.

Sisney was, however, indicted. He allegedly accepted the offer and attended the tournament with his brother.

Windstream denied the bribery in a statement.

"We have always taken great pride in serving our customers with integrity," EVP and General Counsel John Fletcher said in the statement. "We have cooperated fully in the investigation and will vigorously contest the charges."