In October, nine employees with the City of Bartlesville water department were charged with embezzlement after allegedly selling scrap metal from surplus water meters. While one of the men involved was charged with felony embezzlement, the eight remaining defendants were charged with misdemeanors.
After initially pleading not guilty, each of the eight accused of misdemeanor embezzlement entered guilty pleas last week in Washington County District Court. Pleading guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement were:
- Jimmie Frank Beel, 53, Bartlesville
- David Edward Bridges, 47, Bartlesville
- Shawn Michael Collins, 26, Bartlesville
- Matthew Allen Hobson, 28, Bartlesville
- Corey Shane Doggett, 23, Dewey
- Robert Stephen Gage, 24, Dewey
- Jackie Leon Plisek,32, Dewey
- Jeffrey Allen Crawford, 45, Copan
The men were charged after an employee of the ABC Recycling Center told police that he had purchased scrap metal, water meters, brass fittings, and copper and iron parts from Bartlesville city employees driving city-owned vehicles. The nine employees were accused of dismantling some 2,800 water meters of the 16,000 that had been declared surplus by the city of Bartlesville.
Embezzlement Laws in the State of Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, embezzlement may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor based upon the value of the embezzled property or funds. The above listed men were charged with misdemeanors because each profited less than $500 from the sale of embezzled scrap. One employee, Edward Axom, 36, of Ochelata, is charged with felony embezzlement after receiving more than $700 from the sale of city-owned scrap metal.
Misdemeanor embezzlement, or embezzlement valued at less than $500, is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, Special Judge John Gerkin is giving each man a six-month, unsupervised deferred sentence, a $250 fine, and a $75 assessment. The men are not ordered to pay restitution.
Embezzlement of $500 to $1000 is likewise punishable by a maximum of a year in jail and a $1000 fine; however, as a felony, it carries collateral consequences of felony conviction, including loss of certain professional licensure, loss of voting rights, and loss of firearm rights.
Embezzlement is considered a white collar crime, but even blue collar workers can be charged. Essentially, embezzlement is the theft or misappropriation of any money or property to which one may be entrusted.
A deferred sentence is often a defendant's best outcome in a case. In a deferred sentence, the defendant enters a guilty plea, but the judge delays sentencing until the defendant has been provided a chance to serve probation instead. If the defendant successfully complies with the terms of his or her probation, upon completion, the plea is changed to "not guilty" and the case is dismissed, allowing a person to avoid criminal conviction. Deferred sentences are also eligible for record expungement.