Three family members employed by the city of Maud have been charged with felony Oklahoma embezzlement in Pottawatomie County. Court clerk Natalie Meadows, along with her son and daughter-in-law, Justin Horton and Heather Bowers-Horton, are accused of embezzling a combined total of more than $50,000 in city funds between April 2007 and November 2009, with the majority of the theft occurring in the latter half of 2009.
Most of the money was taken from the city's utility fund. Natalie Meadows, 48, has been the court clerk of Maud for 22 years. She told investigators that she embezzled about $5,000 between April 2007 and September 2009 by taking utility bill payments.
When she saw that cash from utility payments was noticeably depleted, she deposited traffic fine money into the utility account, destroying duplicate receipts. According to investigators, Meadows embezzled the city funds to help pay for gambling. They report that she spent nearly $10,000 on gambling in the first few months of 2007, even though her job with the city paid only about $800 a month. Meadows' daughter-in-law, Heather Bowers-Horton, 35, was elected town clerk-treasurer in April 2007--when Meadows' embezzlement allegedly began.
An Oklahoma embezzlement charge has also been levied against Bowers-Horton, after she reportedly admitted to investigators that she took about $23,000 from the Maud, Oklahoma, water fund. She allegedly wrote herself checks because she was "behind on bills."
Additionally, she is accused of writing approximately $11,000 in payroll advances for her husband, Meadows' son Justin Horton, also a city employee. Horton will also need the services of an Oklahoma embezzlement defense attorney after he was charged and accused of taking $23,000 by receiving checks embezzled from city funds and issued by his wife, as well as writing himself payroll advances.
Under Oklahoma law, a felony embezzlement conviction is punishable by up to five years in jail and $5,000 in fines. Additionally, those convicted of embezzlement in Oklahoma are required to pay restitution to their victims. Often, those suspected of white collar crimes are being investigated long before they are aware of the investigation.
If you have done something with your business's finances, and you are concerned that it may have been illegal, your best course of action is to immediately cease the action and contact an Oklahoma white collar defense lawyer. As a best case scenario, your attorney will determine that your action was not illegal. If, however, you have committed a white collar crime, your defense attorney can help you take a proactive approach that will minimize the impact your actions may have on your life.