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Cleveland City Clerk, Former Clerk Arrested On Embezzlement Charge

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Cole (left) currently serves as the Cleveland City Clerk; Masters (right) retired last November. Cole (left) currently serves as the Cleveland City Clerk; Masters (right) retired last November.
PAWNEE COUNTY, Oklahoma -

A Cleveland city employee and former employee accused of bilking thousands of dollars from the city's utility fund were arrested Tuesday.

The Pawnee County Jail confirmed Virginia Masters, 75, and Tama Cole, 53, were booked and bonded out under embezzlement complaints.

Cole currently serves as the Cleveland City Clerk; Masters retired last November.

04/30/2012 Related Story: Former Cleveland City Clerk Faces Embezzlement Charge

The charges stem from a six month long investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation into allegations that city hall staff, including Masters and Cole, embezzled nearly $90,000 from from Cleveland's utility funds to fund personal loans.

OSBI investigators say Masters would use a method of "overlapping" the daily deposits by taking cash from the next day's deposit to cover what others borrowed the previous day.

Cleveland City Manager Elzie Smith and Assistant City Clerks Sherri Herring and Mona Greenwood were also alleged to have participated in the practice – but no other arrests were made at this time.

If convicted, Masters could be sentenced to up to 10 years at the state penitentiary. Cole faces up to two years in prison.

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