Former Muskogee bank president admits embezzling $1.9 million


Wednesday, October 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- A longtime Idabel bank president and former city council member admitted in court Tuesday that he embezzled at least $1.9 million from the bank to fuel his gambling.

Donald Wyrick, 60, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Muskogee to one count of money laundering in connection with the embezzlement from McCurtain County National Bank between 1995 and 1999.

"I got very addicted to gambling, your honor," Wyrick told U.S. District Judge Frank Seay. "I got in way too deep ... and I used money that was not mine."

Attorneys said the plea means Wyrick likely will spend five to seven years in federal prison and could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $3.8 million, but Wyrick told the judge he could not afford to repay the money he took.

Formal sentencing will occur in about three months.

Wyrick served on Idabel's school board and city council, regularly attended church and spent 17 years as president of the bank.

Among the money Wyrick took was $190,000 from a trust set up to support various charities. Charity trustees have sued to get the money back.

"It's gone right now," Jim McClendon, a Broken Bow attorney, said.

"They (trustees) were sending each of these charities in excess of $5,000 a month, but they had to cut back."

The McCurtain County National Bank fired Wyrick in February after bank officials received some information of a potential fraudulent loan, new bank President John Callaham said.

As it turned out, the loan was just the tip of Wyrick's misdeeds, which were then investigated by the FBI.

"He was skilled and knew what was looked at, so he was able to avoid some of the red flags that would otherwise show up,"

Callaham said.

Wyrick did not elaborate on his gambling habit during the hearing. He and his attorney refused comment afterward.

Callaham said he understood that Wyrick had wagered at casinos in Shreveport, La., and Las Vegas.

"It's kind of stunned the whole community," Callaham said. "I feel sorry for the pain he caused his family and what he's done to the reputation of the bank in his community."