Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Criminal Defense blog brought you the story of an Edmond roofer facing embezzlement charges after taking deposits but failing to do the roof repairs promised. Now another Edmond businessman has been charged with embezzlement after failing to complete work contracted by customers. Edmond swimming pool builder Gary Robert Oester, 54, was charged in Oklahoma County with six counts of embezzlement and one count of engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses. According to an investigation, Oester, of Indigo Custom Pools, is accused of taking $60,000 from six customers after contracting to build their swimming pools in Choctaw, Oklahoma City, and Yukon. The customers say that Oester never completed the work, and did not refund their money. Some of the customers say the pool contractor dug holes for the pools, but did not return to finish building the pools. Oester was investigated by the Oklahoma attorney general's office after several customer complaints. Each of the offenses with which he has been charged is a felony. Penalties for embezzlement in Oklahoma vary depending on the value of money or property taken. Embezzlement of less than $500, for example, receives a milder sentence than embezzlement of a greater amount:
- Embezzlement of money or property valued at less than $500 is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail.
- Embezzlement of money or property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000 is punishable by restitution, a fine of up to $5,000, and up to one year in jail.
- Embezzlement of money or property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $25,000 is punishable by restitution, a fine of up to $5,000, and up to five years in prison.
- Embezzlement of money or property valued at $25,000 or more is punishable by restitution, a fine of up to $10,ooo, and up to ten years in prison.
Based on the amount of money allegedly embezzled by Oester and the number of alleged victims, it is possible that the pool contractor faces up to thirty years in prison (five years for each offense) for the embezzlement charges alone. In addition to restitution of approximately $60,000 to the alleged victims, if convicted he may also face up to $30,000 in fines. Embezzlement, a white collar crime, is simply a type of theft related to business or commercial enterprise. In addition to carrying serious legal penalties, facing an embezzlement charge can ruin one's professional reputation or credibility and destroy one's career. If you or someone you love has been accused of embezzlement or fraud, quickly contact an experienced Oklahoma white collar crime lawyer for legal advice.