Ex-Tax Commission Employee Pleads Guilty To 13 Counts

Saturday, April 7th 2007, 2:11 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An ex-state Tax Commission employee avoided prison time by pleading guilty to embezzlement and computer crimes for illegally selling state vending machine decals and keeping the money.

State prosecutors accused Johnny Brandon, 56, of clandestinely selling vending machine decals in bathrooms at the Tax Commission and in other secret places.

Brandon entered pleas on Friday to 11 felony counts of embezzlement and two felony counts of computer crimes. A judge gave him a five-year deferred sentence and ordered him to pay $22,550 in restitution as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the Oklahoma attorney general's office.

The $22,550 in restitution represents the amount the state can prove he embezzled in 2006, said Assistant Attorney General Mary Ann Roberts.

"We believe the actual amount of money lost is far greater than that," Roberts said. "He states in his plea paperwork that he has been doing this since 1996, but this is all we could prove through the records that are available."

Roberts said one year of Brandon's probation will be supervised and the other four will be unsupervised. Besides restitution, he is required to pay a $500 fine, $650 to the victim's compensation fund, plus court costs.

Oklahoma County District Judge Jerry Bass also sentenced Brandon to 24 hours of community service to be performed at a nonprofit organization of his choice.

If Brandon completes probation successfully, his criminal record will be expunged.

The state multicounty grand jury indicted Brandon in October. One grand jury witness claimed he paid Brandon in cash for decals, meeting in restrooms at the Tax Commission and other places, the witness's attorney, Irven Box, told The Oklahoman.

The Tax Commission collects about $3.7 million a year by selling decals for vending machines. Vendors pay for decals instead of paying sales tax on machine income.

The decals can be found on pool tables, pinball machines and other arcade games, food dispensers, soft drink machines, kiddie rides at grocery stores and gumball machines.