Ex-Ark. company official charged with perjury

Ex-Ark. company official charged with perjury

A former official with an Arkansas telecommunications company is accused of lying to a grand jury about basketball tournament tickets he gave to a former school district superintendent in Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A former official with an Arkansas telecommunications company is accused of lying to a grand jury about basketball tournament tickets he gave to a former school district superintendent in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma County judge on Thursday unsealed an indictment from a multicounty grand jury that charges Eddie Bryson, former vice president and general manager of Oklahoma operations for Windstream Corp., with one count of perjury.

The indictment alleges Bryson "willfully and feloniously" gave false testimony to a grand jury when he was asked about two all-session tickets to the 2007 NCAA Men's Final Four tournament in Atlanta that authorities say were given to former Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Jim Sisney.

Sisney pleaded not guilty last month to bribery and conspiracy charges. He's accused of accepting the tickets and a promise of "other valuable gratuities" paid for by Windstream.

According to the indictment unsealed Thursday, Bryson testified that he had received the tickets, along with arrangements for lodging and ground transportation in Atlanta, from his boss. Bryson said he couldn't attend because of a prior speaking engagement, the indictment says.

"So it was either trash the tickets or give them to someone that was either a customer or a friend, and Dr. Sisney was both," Bryson testified.

Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Megan Tilly, whose office oversees the grand jury, said the panel alleges Windstream provided the tickets to Sisney because of the Broken Arrow school district's business relationship with the company. Windstream Corp. provided the district's telecommunication services.

"His statement basically was that he was an employee who was given the tickets and just gave them to a friend, but we believe in actuality they were given by the corporation as a 'Thank You' for the business," Tilly said.

The indictment against Bryson alleges the tickets were given to Sisney without the knowledge of the Broken Arrow district or school board officials and in violation of a district policy against officers and employees accepting gifts from vendors and service providers.

Bryson has been released from custody in Washington state on a $10,000 bond, his attorney, Dan Webber, said. Webber said he and co-counsel Pat Ryan were still studying the indictment and declined additional comment.

Windstream Corp. officials declined to comment on the indictment.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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