- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) - The former director of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce has pleaded not guilty to a charge of embezzlement.

Cherokee County District Court records indicate David Glenn Moore, 47, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an embezzlement charge. Moore resigned from the chamber in June when board members began to question him about chamber finances.

An affidavit from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector’s Office audited the chamber and found that up to $439,000 may have been lost due to misappropriation and questionable expenditures, the Tahlequah Daily Press (http://bit.ly/1CXkkEs ) reported.

OSBI Special Agent Vicky Lyons indicates in the affidavit that several chamber supporters were victimized by the alleged misuse of funds.

The affidavit says Rupham Gandhi, described as a local business owner, told investigators Moore solicited a loan in May while claiming the chamber was short of funds for a locally sponsored trip. Gandhi provided a personal check to Moore with the loan to be paid in full the next day, but Moore failed to return the money by the time he resigned, the affidavit says.

In another case, Patsiann Smith provided Moore with a loan on Nov. 25, 2013, when Moore told Smith the chamber needed a new heat and air system, the affidavit said. Board members did not authorize the agreement, according to Lyons’ report. Moore allegedly made three payments to Smith with chamber funds, but when he provided Smith a check in May 2014, the bank account did not have sufficient funds.

The OSBI report also outlines the use of chamber money, allegedly by Moore, to pay personal bills or to cover the costs of the former tourism director’s insurance and medicine.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Wes Combs, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Moore’s attorney, former state Sem. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, declined comment on the case.

Records indicate Moore was released on a $30,000 bond.

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Information from: Tahlequah Daily Press, http://www.tahlequahdaailypress.com

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