- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The latest on the criminal charges filed against Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Rick Brinkley of Owasso (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

The interim CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Oklahoma says a guilty plea by the agency’s former leader is a “tragedy to all who entrusted him to lead.”

Sen. Rick Brinkley pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges accusing him of embezzling $1.8 million from the nonprofit, where he worked for 15 years. He’ll be sentenced later this year.

In a statement, the agency’s interim CEO Carrie Hurt says she’s hopeful the money will eventually be returned to the organization. She declined further comment because the organization has a pending civil lawsuit filed against Brinkley in Tulsa County.

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1:45 p.m.

A two-term state senator who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges faces a maximum sentence of more than 20 years in prison.

Sen. Rick Brinkley pleaded guilty Thursday to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. He resigned his seat in the Legislature shortly after the charges were announced Thursday morning.

U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams says Brinkley faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the wire fraud charges and three years in prison for the false tax return count. He’s due in federal court for sentencing on Nov. 20.

According to a plea agreement filed with the court, prosecutors will recommend a sentence reduction as long as Brinkley “clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility,” though the final decision is up to the judge.

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11:50 a.m.

An attorney representing Rick Brinkley says the two-term senator recently spent two months at an inpatient treatment facility for a gambling addiction.

Defense attorney Mack Martin says Brinkley decided to plead guilty to federal wire fraud charges Thursday because it was in the best interest of his family and friends. Federal prosecutors alleged that Brinkley embezzled $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa, where Brinkley had worked for 15 years.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said that Brinkley had spent the money on credit card bills and at casinos.

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11:40 a.m.

A two-term Oklahoma state senator has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $1.8 million from a nonprofit agency.

Rick Brinkley pleaded guilty Thursday to the six federal charges. U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan scheduled sentencing for Nov. 20.

Earlier Thursday, Brinkley resigned his Senate seat.

Prosecutors accused Brinkley of taking $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa, where Brinkley had worked for 15 years.

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11:30 a.m.

The leader of the Oklahoma Senate says federal charges against Republican Sen. Rick Brinkley of Owasso are serious crimes that call for his immediate resignation.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman of Sapulpa issued a statement Thursday shortly after Brinkley submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately.

Brinkley stepped down after federal prosecutors charged him with five counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return in a scheme that involved taking $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa.

Bingman says that with Brinkley’s resignation and a special election having been called, the Senate can put the matter behind it “and look forward to conducting the business of the state.”

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10:40 a.m.

Republican State Sen. Rick Brinkley says he will resign his post immediately.

Brinkley submitted the letter of resignation Thursday to Secretary of State Chris Benge’s office. The one-paragraph letter states that for personal reasons, Brinkley “irrevocably” resigns his District 34 seat in the Senate, “effective immediately.”

Brinkley previously said he’d step down as state senator at the end of the year.

Prosecutors charged Brinkley on Wednesday with five counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. He’s accused in a scheme that involved taking $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa.

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10:20 a.m.

A federal prosecutor says Oklahoma state senator Rick Brinkley allegedly used $1.8 million from a nonprofit agency to pay off hefty credit card bills and to gamble at casinos in Oklahoma and other states.

U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams detailed the allegations against Brinkley at a news conference Thursday morning. Williams says Brinkley allegedly paid more than $300,000 on an American Express card and $100,000 on a Visa bill. He says Brinkley also allegedly used the money from the Better Business Bureau to pay his personal mortgage and for swimming pool repairs.

Brinkley was charged Wednesday with five counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. Court records say that the charges were part of plea negotiations between prosecutors and Brinkley’s attorney.

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9:25 a.m.

Federal prosecutors have charged a two-term Oklahoma state senator with wire fraud and filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $1.8 million from a nonprofit agency.

Prosecutors filed charges late Wednesday against Sen. Rick Brinkley, who had previously agreed to step down from his state Senate seat on Dec. 31. According to court documents, the Republican from Owasso is charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

The court records say the charges are a result of plea negotiations between Brinkley and federal prosecutors. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at federal court in Tulsa.

Brinkley worked at the Better Business Bureau for 15 years.

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