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Former Oklahoma Official Indicted

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Roger Melson appeared Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court Roger Melson appeared Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- A former auditor for the Commissioners of the Land Office has been indicted on 178 counts of embezzlement.

Roger Melson, 55, appeared Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court. Prosecutors allege he stole more than $1.16 million in royalty payments to the office over the last five years.

"There's no question my client is in a lot of trouble. Mentally, he's a wreck--understandably so," said Melson's attorney Billy Bock.

Melson worked as an auditor for the State of Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office, also known as the School Land Trust for 21 years.

According to the indictment, Melson began diverting royalty checks from oil and gas leases into a bank account he had set up in 2004. From 2004 to 2009 Melson allegedly deposited $1.166 million into his account.

The Attorney General's office said Melson spent much of the money on gambling, most of it at Oklahoma City's Remington Park. Some of the money was spent on cars and homes.

"Certainly the state, and the commissioners of land, and the public school system for the state of Oklahoma would like to know where the rest of that money is," said Assistant Attorney General Joel-Lyn McCormick.

There's only $23, 000 remaining in Melson's account. The state said a large percentage of the embezzled money is unaccounted for, but Melson's attorney believes that's all that's left.

"Believe me, I wish that there was a pot of gold there that we could say, listen, we'd like to give that, because that's a chip that we would use in negotiations," Melson's attorney said.

Bock said his client is being treated for a gambling addiction. He said Melson is remorseful about what happened.

The judge set Melson's bond at $174,000--or a $1,000 for each count

News release from the Oklahoma AG office....

A Multicounty Grand Jury indictment unsealed today accuses a former auditor of embezzling almost $1.2 million from the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO), Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

Roger Q. Melson, Jr. is accused of 174 counts of embezzlement for allegedly taking more than $1.16 million in royalty payments intended for the CLO.  Melson worked for the agency for 21 years, most recently as audit director.

"Congress in 1906 set aside certain parcels of land through the Enabling Act for the benefit of Oklahoma schools," Edmondson said.  "The CLO administers, manages and controls the use of these lands and the funds derived from their use, like agricultural, oil and gas leases and other types of royalties."

The indictment alleges Melson diverted CLO royalty payments to his own personal use.

"The grand jurors accuse Melson of creating and registering with the Secretary of State an entity called Commissioner of the Land Office and opening a bank account referenced Roger Q. Melson, Jr. DBA Commissioner of the Land Office," Edmondson said.  "He then allegedly diverted almost 200 different CLO payments to this bogus entity over a five-year period."

The attorney general said the scheme hurt Oklahoma schools and students.

"In embezzling this money from the CLO, Melson was essentially stealing from school children," Edmondson said.  "Instead of this money buying desks and textbooks, Melson used it for his own personal ends.  The scope and duration of this fraud is staggering."

Edmondson's office administers the Multicounty Grand Jury and will be directing the prosecution.  The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation at Edmondson's request.

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