A trial date of August 30 has been set for a former auditor for the Commissioners of the Land Office accused of embezzling $1.16 million dollars. The auditor is accused of intercepting checks sent to the Land Office and using those checks for personal use.
Embezzling Funds to Fuel Gambling Addiction
According to his defense lawyer, the auditor embezzled the funds because of a gambling addiction. He is expected to reach a plea agreement with prosecuting attorneys before the case goes to trial. The Oklahoma embezzlement case led to Governor Henry's signing of House Bill 3026, which revises operations of the Commissioners of the Land Office.
Because the auditor took the checks while working in the mail room of the Land Office, the bill establishes a "lock box," which allows a bank to receive and process the checks for the Land Office. The former auditor is not the only state official in the spotlight for embezzlement in Oklahoma.
A former First Assistant District Attorney in one Oklahoma county was recently indicted on two felony counts of embezzling more than $50,000. The prosecutor is accused of keeping more than $10,000 seized during an arrest and of stealing $40,ooo from the district attorney's office. His attorney has filed a motion challenging the indictment, saying that the grand jury contained ineligible members and did not follow procedures, thus improperly obtaining the indictment.
Existing Oklahoma Embezzlement Laws
Under Oklahoma embezzlement law, misdemeanor and felony embezzlement occur when a person fraudulently appropriates the personal property of a person or legal entity and uses that property for any purpose not intended or authorized by its owner. The punishment for embezzlement depends on the value of the property or amount of money embezzled. If the value of the property is less than $500, the defendant, if found guilty, will be convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement and may be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine.
Punishments and Legal Defense
Embezzlement of $500 or more results in a felony embezzlement charge. Punishments range from 1 year in county jail and a $5000 fine up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Those convicted of felony embezzlement in Oklahoma are also ordered to pay restitution to the victim. If you are accused of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds in Oklahoma City, immediately consult with an experienced OKC white collar defense attorney with a proven record of success who will protect your interests.