- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A Republican state senator at the center of an embezzlement investigation at the nonprofit agency where he once worked has stepped down from his leadership positions in the Oklahoma Senate, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said Monday.

Sen. Rick Brinkley of Owasso resigned as assistant majority floor leader, chairman of the Senate Pensions Committee and vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Bingman said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation 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.

The BBB filed a lawsuit Friday that alleges Brinkley embezzled more than $1 million from the organization by setting up corporate entities to receive payments for phony credit card accounts and other alleged business expenses to “pay his mortgage, pool cleaner, personal credit card invoices, and to support a hidden gambling habit.”

It also alleges that Brinkley, who was fired by the BBB on April 26 amid an internal investigation, took cash advances for business trips he never made, drawing on the organization’s line of credit for his own use and falsifying records to hide discrepancies, and that he funneled money from his state campaign fund to a phony vendor.

Brinkley has declined to comment on the allegations, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

Brinkley’s campaign expenditures indicate he paid $49,693.94 to the BBB on Jan. 7, but the reasons are unclear. The lawsuit claims the check was intended to “deceitfully conceal the actual condition of the BBB from its Board of Directors.”

Brinkley, who was elected to the state Senate in 2010 representing north Tulsa County, 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 he was fired.

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