Former OK State Senator Who Embezzled: I'm An Addict
TULSA, Oklahoma - Former Oklahoma State Senator and Tulsa Better Business Bureau CEO Rick Brinkley is going to prison for embezzling almost $2 million from the BBB.
In part two of my exclusive interview, I asked him if he's overwhelmed about making restitution, which is also part of his sentence.
"If I get overwhelmed by the $2 million dollars, part of my brain will tell me, 'Go out and win it. Go out and win it.' I can't focus on things that trigger me to get back to the casino. I can say, 'I will do whatever I can. I will work as hard as I can. I will do whatever the government tells me to do,' but I can't be overwhelmed and let it push me back to where it got me today."
I asked him how he reassures people he won't do it again when he gets out.
"I can't," he said. "I'm an addict. There's not a day that goes by I don't think about it. I think about gambling every day. All I can do is do what I have to do to help myself stay clean and do it one day at a time."
He said in court that sometimes people don't find their true purpose until they hit rock bottom, so I asked him what that is.
"My new purpose is to take what I went through and make sure people understand that other people get what you're going through. I always thought I was the only one," Brinkley said.
"My stuff is over other than serving my sentence and paying my restitution, now my job is making sure nobody else walks this road."
He encourages people to get help, he encourages the loved ones of compulsive gamblers to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. He says quitting on your own is not easy.
I asked him if there a point when a compulsive gambler says to himself, "This is bad, this is no longer fun, this is compulsive?"
Brinkley said, "I would be driving home, I'm not going tonight, I'm not going, I am not taking this exit. I am not doing it. I would be sitting there playing and go, go home, go home, you've got a problem, you've got to get help."
"I remember being in the shower on my knees, praying to God, please just take this from me. I'm an educated person. I'm smart. I was fortunate in every aspect of my life. I had the most incredible life anyone could've dreamed of, but that didn't matter because I was an addict."
I asked him what he thinks the future holds. He said, "I know it'll be writing and speaking because chances are, I'm going to have a difficult time getting a job, being a felon."
Brinkley reports to federal prison April 14th, he hopes it's in El Reno so it'll be easier for his family to visit.
To find a Gambler's Anonymous meeting, call 855-222-5542 toll free. You can also click this link.
If you have a family member or loved one who is a compulsive gambler and you don't know what to do, find a meeting here.
If there aren't meetings in your area or if you are looking for a private counselor, visit Oklahoma Association for Problem & Compulsive Gambling.