Former Tulsa FOP Treasurer Sentenced For Embezzlement

Monday, June 22nd 2015, 4:48 pm
By: Tess Maune, Richard Clark

A former Tulsa police officer and Fraternal Order of Police treasurer has been sentenced to almost three years in prison.

Lorna "Jean" Vanlandingham admitted to stealing nearly half-a-million dollars from the FOP.

That money was meant to go toward helping police officers in their time of need and for community outreach events, but it went toward helping feed an addiction.

Vanlandingham said she stole to pay for her gambling addiction, an addiction she said she didn't realize she had until it was too late.

2/12/2015: Related Story: Former Tulsa FOP Treasurer Charged With Stealing Nearly Half Million Dollars

Covering her face with papers, Vanlandingham walked out of the federal courthouse in silence, but her former Tulsa Police colleagues were not so quiet.

“As police officers we have felt betrayed and stabbed in the back,” said Tulsa FOP President, Sergeant Clay Ballenger. “Yes, she was a friend and colleague, but now she's a criminal and we feel like justice has been served.”

Ballenger discovered money was missing from the organization last April. Vanlandingham, who spent 25 years as a Tulsa Police officer, was the police union treasurer at the time.

“She was like family for many, many, many years. We trusted her, not only with our lives as police officers, but obviously with our money,” Ballenger said.

According to court documents, Vanlandingham stole $67,278.53 from the Fraternal Order of Police Oklahoma State Lodge and at least $403,126.98 from Lodge 93 from 2010-2014.

She pleaded guilty this February, and on Monday was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay back what she took.

As part of the plea deal, she has to pay a $15,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $291,127.59. She'll be on probation for three years once she gets out of prison.

Vandlandingham's attorney, April Seibert said, “She saw members, friends of hers, in the audience and obviously she feels very badly, and it was very emotional for her seeing them there.”

In the courtroom, the 71-year-old woman apologized to her former colleagues.

"The first 65 years of my life I made good choices, but then something happened, I can't explain," she said.

She blamed the theft on a gambling addiction, saying it started slowly - at first repaying what she stole - then got out of hand.

She said she not only destroyed her reputation, but also the trust of her fellow officers - men and women who said they're not ready to forgive.

“Obviously there was no regret until after she got caught, as most criminals do. So as I sat there and listened to her excuses, it just made me more angry as a police officer and a representative of all Tulsa Police officers,” Ballenger said.

Vanlandingham has already paid back about a quarter of what she stole.

She was ordered to surrender to the department of corrections before noon on August 26th.