Jury convicts former co-op manager on 106 felony counts

Saturday, September 18th 2004, 5:47 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A former cooperative manager faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after his federal conviction on 106 counts of money laundering and passing forged checks.

Friday's verdict was the second time Gregory Vincent Hunt has been found guilty of embezzling more than $2 million from the defunct Orienta Cooperative Association.

Federal prosecutors charged Hunt with 65 counts of passing forged checks and 41 counts of money laundering.

A June 2001 conviction in the case was overturned earlier this year after a judge found that Hunt, 45, received ineffective counsel. In his appeal, Hunt's attorney said that his trial lawyer had financial and personal problems and had tried to represent the co-op's stockholders in a civil lawsuit against Hunt.

The jury deliberated about three hours after hearing evidence Hunt used his authority as co-op manager to deposit more than $2 million worth of checks into an account he controlled at a Thomas bank, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell.

According to evidence presented at trial, the expenditures weren't approved by the co-op board, nor was the money used for any legitimate co-op activities.

Evidence indicated Hunt used the money to trade on the commodities market, purchase personal items, such as a boat and boat engine, write checks to family members and transfer more than $300,000 into his personal bank account.

The co-op's board of directors discovered financial problems after firing Hunt in 2000 for unrelated reasons.

During Hunt's first trial in November 2001, he testified he had full authorization from the co-op's board of directors to invest in the commodities markets.

He admitted losing large amounts of money on speculative commodities trades and paying himself more than $300,000 in commissions. But he said all the transactions were authorized.

Board members of the co-op, which was liquidated in subsequent bankruptcy proceedings, denied Hunt's version of events.