Owasso State Senator Charged With Financial Fraud, Enters Plea
TULSA, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma state senator pleaded guilty Thursday morning to wire fraud and tax evasion.
Federal prosecutors in Tulsa announced charges against Rick Brinkley of Owasso accusing him of embezzling nearly $2 million from the Better Business Bureau.
Brinkley pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.
Documents say Brinkley stole more than $1.8 million from the BBB where he served as CEO.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Brinkley lied on his 2013 tax form, failing to report nearly $150,000 in income to the IRS. Documents say Brinkley wrote checks from the BBB's account to himself, then cashed them, or use them to pay off his credit cards.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Danny Williams says Brinkley committed these crimes to pay off gambling debts. His transactions show the state senator withdrew cash from the BBB's account at several casinos throughout Oklahoma and Las Vegas.
"The fact that he pled guilty so quickly tells me we have a good case," Williams said. "We knew several months ago this case was a good case, and we afforded him an opportunity to come forward and accept responsibility."
Prosecutors say Brinkley, who has served as a state senator since 2010 -- misused the public's trust by being financially irresponsible.
"Its a combination of actually taking the money from the BBB accounts to pay 3 or 4 credit cards for an example from what we can tell, he paid over $300,000 to American Express during this period of time, $150,000 to Visa, and then there were significant amounts of money, several hundreds of thousands of dollars, withdrawn from ATMs from different casinos, Vegas trips, things of that nature," said Danny Williams.
Each of the wire fraud charges comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. While the tax evasion charge is three years maximum.
"Public servants are held to a higher standard" FBI Special Agent Scott Cruse said. "And our citizens expect our public servants to uphold the law in all aspects of their lives."
8/20/2015 Related Story: Documents: Owasso State Senator Reaches Plea Deal On Federal Charges
News On 6 was the only station to get a comment from Brinkley's defense attorney, Mack Martin. He said Brinkley is getting help for his gambling addiction.
"Over the past 60 days, he's been in an in-patient treatment program, Gamblers Anonymous," Martin said.
When we asked Brinkley if it is true he is getting help for an addiction, he gave no response.