A judge sentenced former Better Business Bureau CEO and Oklahoma State Senator Rick Brinkley to prison Friday.
Brinkley pleaded guilty in August 2015 to federal wire fraud and tax evasion charges. The judge ordered him to serve 37 months and said he must report to prison by April 1, 2016.
Documents show Brinkley stole more than $1.8 million from the BBB. The judge ordered him to repay that money and almost $150,000 to the IRS for failing to report income.
Prosecutors said Brinkley wrote checks from the BBB's account to himself, then either cashed them or used them to pay off his credit cards. They said he spent the money at casinos in Oklahoma and Las Vegas.
In court on Friday, Brinkley apologized to to the Better Business Bureau and his family. He blamed his gambling addiction for the crime but said it is not an excuse.
An official with the BBB told the court Brinkley's crime cost it more than just money. The organization lost 500 members and the public's trust because of Brinkley's crime, the official said.
In a statement submitted to the court, the BBB said Brinkley worked for BBB Tulsa for 12 years and was its CEO for four of those years. The statement said, "It is without question that Mr. Brinkley's fraudulent criminal behavior over many years has severely damaged BBB Tulsa, a non-profit institution whose mission is to promote honesty, integrity and transparency in the business community."
The BBB said Brinkley's criminal acts cost the organization more than $250,000 in lost dues in 2015 because of the decline in membership, but the letter said the "reputational and public image damage to BBB Tulsa is incalculable."
Brinkley's attorney said Brinkley forfeited all his property to the government toward restitution and is now "a pauper." Brinkley told the court some people don't find their purpose until they hit rock bottom and he has a new direction which is to help others. He told the court he considered suicide but the support of his family convinced him to change his mind.
Brinkley had been a state senator since 2010 before resigning after being charged in the case.