Former OK Senator Cites Gambling as Root of Embezzlement14-Mar-2016
A former Oklahoma state senator was sentenced last week in federal court after conviction of wire fraud and tax evasion related to the embezzlement of more than $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa.
Rick Brinkley pleaded guilty in August to five counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion after being indicted on federal charges alleging embezzlement and fraud beginning in 2005.
Brinkley faced up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, according to 18 U.S. Code § 1343. He faced the possibility of an additional 5 years in federal prison for tax evasion.
However, the former senator, who resigned when he entered his guilty plea, requested probation only for his sentence. Brinkley told the judge, "Sometimes we don't find our purpose until we hit rock bottom." Since his indictment, he says, he has not only completed a 37-day rehabilitation program to overcome his gambling addiction, he has also begun counseling others with gambling problems. He has been attending and even leading Gamblers Anonymous meetings for nine months.
While U.S. District Judge Claire Egan did not give Brinkley the probation he requested, she did show leniency, acknowledging the former senator's recovery efforts and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions. She sentenced him to 37 months in prison, ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $1,829,033 to the Tulsa BBB and restitution of $165,625 to the IRS. Additionally, the judge ordered him to continue treatment for his gambling addiction, serve 50 hours of community service with a recovery group, and stay out of casinos.
Brinkley used a BBB credit card to make cash withdrawals to support his gambling addiction, spending the money in local casinos. Additionally, he created false invoices to divert money to himself to fuel his gambling. He admitted that the gambling was the root of his actions, saying that it explains, but does not justify, his behavior.
Embezzlement often has an addiction or compulsive behavior at its root. Often, the misappropriated money is used to try to get out of financial crisis or to fuel an addiction to gambling, drugs, or shopping. Embezzlement of this type typically builds upon itself. A few dollars are taken with intent to repay, and before long, more money has been taken than the person could ever repay. Rather than solving a financial problem, embezzlement creates more problems, culminating in state or federal charges.
For a free, confidential consultation about a white collar crime charge in Oklahoma, call attorney Adam Banner at 405-778-4800.
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