As expected, the former auditor for the Commissioners of the Land Office has reached a plea agreement just days before his Oklahoma embezzlement trial was scheduled to begin.
Embezzlement in Oklahoma County
Roger Q. Melson, Jr., who was accused of embezzling nearly $1.2 million from the Oklahoma Land Office, pleaded guilty Friday to 174 counts of embezzlement. His trial was scheduled to begin today, August 30. According to Melson's Oklahoma County white collar crime defense attorney, the embezzlement scheme was hatched in an attempt to pay gambling debts fueled by the defendant's gambling addiction.
Melson was accused of creating and registering a fraudulent entity called the Commissioner of the Land Office and opening a bank account for the false organization. He would then intercept checks for the Land Office from the mail room and cash them for his personal use. Melson is scheduled to be sentenced on November 9.
Under statutes pertaining to embezzlement and fraud in Oklahoma, embezzlement of over $500 is a felony, punishable by restitution, fines of up to $10,000, and a maximum of 10 years in prison. As a result of the scale of this embezzlement case, Governor Brad Henry signed House Bill 3026, which restructured the financial workings of the Commissioners of the Land Office to try to prevent further financial loss.
Payments to the Land Office are now processed directly at a bank. White collar crime in Oklahoma includes embezzlement, fraud, and certain computer crimes, such as internet fraud and online credit fraud.
For those who suspect they may be involved in illegal commercial activity, the first step in protecting themselves from prosecution is to immediately cease that activity.
Next, individuals who may have had a part in white collar crime should consult an attorney for an evaluation of their case. An experienced white collar crime defense lawyer can help you understand your options if charged and can negotiate with prosecutors for the best possible outcome to your case.