Former Assistant Sues Stipe

6-22-05- Former state Senator Gene Stipe's longtime assistant sued him today for allegedly stopping payments on a 200 thousand dollar employment contract.

Charlene Spears joined Stipe in pleading guilty in a campaign scandal that ended the McAlester Democrat's political career. But the lawsuit states she continued handling Stipe's business interests after both left his former law firm, where she worked for more than two decades.

The lawsuit, filed in Pittsburg County, says Stipe promised that Spears would be "taken care of," and that his concern for her future security grew after he fell ill in 2003.

In lieu of a retirement, it states, Stipe and Spears agreed to an employment contract in March 2004. The lawsuit states that monthly payments of 63 hundred dollars continued until last month.