February 14, 1968: Governor Barron and Others Indicted
On February 14, 1968, former Governor Wally Barron and five others were indicted by a federal grand jury on bribery and conspiracy charges.
The indictments alleged that members of the Barron Administration, including the governor himself, had set up “dummy corporations” and received kickbacks from people doing business with the state. Five state vendors testified they’d made payments to the dummy firms. After 18 hours of deliberation, the jury found everyone but Barron guilty.
Word soon began to spread that the jury foreman, Ralph Buckalew, had been bribed by Barron. Making the accusation seem more plausible, the jury vote had initially been in favor of convicting Barron, 11-1, with Buckalew as the lone holdout. In 1971, a grand jury indicted Buckalew, Barron, and Barron’s wife, Opal, on bribery charges related to the earlier trial. The former first lady was included because she allegedly handed a paper bag containing $25,000 to the jury foreman’s wife
The former governor pleaded guilty in exchange for charges being dropped against Opal Barron. Buckalew also pleaded guilty. Wally Barron served four years of a 25-year prison sentence.