A supervisor at the Carter County District Attorney's office has been fired and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation after auditors uncovered numerous accounting discrepancies. The supervisor, who has not been charged with any crime and has not been named by District Attorney Craig Ladd, is suspected of embezzling from multiple finance accounts.
The fired supervisor was in charge of the office's bogus check program as well as other restitution programs, collection of probation fees, and the property forfeiture program.
Ladd has recused himself from the investigation, which has now been assigned to Bryan County District Attorney Emily Redman. Because the list of discrepancies and questionable activity revealed in the audit report was so extensive, Redman asked the OSBI to handle the investigation. According to the audit, the bogus check division, which collects restitution from those convicted of passing bad checks and remits it to victims, logged $435,000 in write-offs in 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, an additional $8,500 was marked as received by the office but never deposited with the county treasurer.
The audit revealed a number of factors which contributed to a "high-risk environment" for theft or embezzlement of funds and forfeited property. Carter County District Attorney Craig Ladd says that these issues have since been addressed to prevent further mishandling and misappropriation of funds.
The crime of embezzlement and its associated penalties are enumerated in Title 21 § 1451 of the Oklahoma criminal code. The statutes explain the act of misappropriating funds or property and delineate the punishments for theft based on the value of the stolen property or funds. Section 1451(c) deals specifically with embezzlement by public officers and their employees:
Any county or state officer, deputy or employee of such officer, who shall divert any money appropriated by law from the purpose and object of the appropriation, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years, and a fine equal to triple the amount of money so embezzled and ordered to pay restitution to the victim as provided in Section 991f of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The fine shall operate as a judgment lien at law on all estate of the party so convicted and sentenced, and shall be enforced by execution or other process for the use of the person whose money or other funds or property were embezzled. In all cases the fine, so operating as a judgment lien, shall be released or entered
as satisfied only by the person in interest.
The fine of triple the amount of the theft makes the fine for embezzlement of public funds potentially much greater than the fine associated with embezzlement from a private business. In either circumstance, theft of $25,000 or more is punishable by a sentence of one to ten years in prison.
Often, a person may be the subject of an investigation without his or her knowledge. If you suspect you may be under investigation, or if you have been accused of embezzlement or fraud, visit our criminal defense website to find a white collar crimes lawyer in Oklahoma. Click here to find out how we can help and to schedule a free, confidential evaluation of your case.