Former Okla. Senator Gets 3 Years for Fraud

     TULSA, Okla. (CN) – A former Oklahoma state senator was sentenced Friday to over three years in federal prison for tax evasion and for stealing $1.8 million while leading the Better Business Bureau.
     Ricky L. Brinkley, 54, of Owasso, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan also ordered Brinkley to pay $1.8 million to the Better Business Bureau in restitution, as well as $165,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.
     Brinkley pleaded guilty in August to five counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. He then resigned as senator for the 34th District, which includes Tulsa. He most recently served as chairman of the Committee of Pensions and vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
     Prosecutors said Brinkley used his employer’s credit card to make cash withdrawals at casinos to support his gambling habit. They said he would create false invoices using Better Business Bureau money for payment.
     Danny C. Williams, U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Oklahoma, said Brinkley “will now face the consequences of his actions for betraying the public’s trust.”
     R. Damon Rowe, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent, said all income including embezzled money is taxable.
     “The Better Business Bureau was not Mr. Brinkley’s personal piggy bank, and today’s sentence sends a positive message to honest taxpayers – a reminder that the justice system works, and that filing a false tax return is a crime that will be punished,” he said.
     Between November 2005 and February 2015, Brinkley diverted more than $1.2 million while serving as the bureau’s president and chief executive officer and later as chief operating officer, the 6-page criminal information stated.
     “He fraudulently signed checks, transferred, used, and disbursed funds to pay personal expenses and debts including mortgage payments, expenses for pool cleaning services at his home, and his personal American Express, Discover, and Visa cards,” prosecutors said in a statement.
     Brinkley had faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charges and up to three years and a $250,000 fine on the false tax return charge.

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