New Details Revealed In Commissioners Of The Land Office Case

Sunday, June 28th 2009, 12:28 pm
By: News On 6

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former employee of the Commissioners of the Land Office accused of embezzlement also is listed as the owner or president of two oil companies that did business with the agency, according to filings with the Oklahoma secretary of state's office.

A multicounty grand jury earlier this month returned a 174-count indictment accusing Roger Q. Melson, 55, of embezzling royalty, lease and other payments from the school land office where he worked as director of audits for the royalty division.

6/18/2009  Related Story: Former Oklahoma Official Indicted

Melson worked 21 years for the agency, which manages public lands set aside for the financial benefit of Oklahoma's schools.

According to investigators, Melson apparently used a trade name registration from the secretary of state's office as the "Commissioner of the Land Office" to secure a bank account, according to investigators. He's accused of taking checks made out to the commission and depositing them into that account for his personal use.

Melson was registered as the president of the Commissioner of the Land Office in the filings, The Oklahoman reported in its Sunday edition.

He's also listed as the owner of two oil and gas companies and the president of another oil company, according to trade name reports filed with the secretary of state's office. On all the filings, Melson's home address in Edmond is listed as the place of business.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, which is leading the multicounty grand jury investigation, refused to comment on whether Melson's involvement with those companies is under investigation.

"We're aware of those companies," said Charlie Price, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Melson's attorney, Billy Bock, said late Friday he didn't know anything about the other companies registered by Melson.

Melson, who is free on $100,000 bail, could not be reached for comment. Bock has said his client struggles with a gambling addiction.

Because a criminal investigation is under way, officials at the Commissioners of the Land Office also would not comment on why Melson might have listed himself as an officer of oil and gas companies that at one point paid royalty checks to the state agency.

Doug Allen, acting secretary of the land office, said the office is looking into records Melson may have had access to.

The land office manages more than $1.4 billion in land and mineral assets.

Melson listed himself as owner of H&L Operating Co. and president of J-Brex Co. The Amarillo, Texas-based companies pay oil and gas royalties to the land office.

Jim J. Brewer, president of J-Brex Co., said his company has been drilling oil and gas wells for several years on school land managed by the land office. Brewer said he wasn't aware that the name of his company was being used until he was contacted by The Oklahoman and that isn't affiliated with Melson.

Gay Turner, office manager at H&L Operating Co., said employees are complying with requests from the land office to turn over information about two checks the company mailed to the state agency in 2006 and 2007.