- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A Republican state senator who has announced plans to resign after being accused of embezzling more than $1.8 million from the nonprofit where he worked will not be eligible to receive a state pension, the head of a state retirement agency said Tuesday.

Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso, who has agreed to step down from his seat on Dec. 31, will have accumulated five years of state service since his election in 2010, falling one year short of the six years he would need to qualify for state retirement benefits, said Joe Fox, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.

“It has nothing to do with what happened to him. There just wouldn’t be enough time to qualify for a benefit,” Fox said.

Still, Democratic state Rep. Mike Brown of Tahlequah said Brinkley should step down immediately and taxpayers should not have to pay for his estimated $19,000 in salary and health benefits through the end of the year.

Brinkley “should do the honorable thing and resign from the Oklahoma Senate effective immediately,” Brown said in a statement. “The taxpayers of Oklahoma shouldn’t be required to continue paying his salary and fringe benefits in light of these developments.”

Brinkley did not respond to a telephone message Tuesday seeking comment.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has said it is looking into allegations that funds were misappropriated at the Better Business Bureau in Tulsa, where Brinkley worked for 15 years before he was fired in April.

A lawsuit filed by the BBB alleges Brinkley embezzled more than $1.8 million from the organization by setting up fake corporate entities and using the money to “pay his mortgage, pool cleaner, personal credit card invoices, and to support a hidden gambling habit.”

The lawsuit also alleges Brinkley took cash advances for business trips he never made and provided forged and falsified documents to the bureau’s board to hide his misappropriation of funds. Brinkley served as president and CEO of the BBB from Aug. 2, 1999, to May 31, 2011, and as chief operating officer from June 1, 2011 until April 26.

Brinkley also agreed last week to forfeit $81,000 in campaign funds to the state to settle allegations that he improperly used campaign funds. Brinkley’s campaign finance reports indicate he paid nearly $50,000 earlier this year to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB’s lawsuit claims the check was intended to “deceitfully conceal” the agency’s finances from its board of directors.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy


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