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OKLAHOMA CITY – A former Oklahoma Beef Council employee plead guilty Wednesday to embezzling $2.6 million and signing a false federal income tax return.

Back on May 10, 2017, Melissa Morton was charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of filing a false federal income tax return.

Morton worked as the Accounting and Compliance Manager at the Oklahoma Beef Council in Oklahoma City  where she prepared checks, paid invoices, and generated financial statements for audits from October 1995 until late July 2016.

Wednesday, she plead guilty to preparing an unauthorized company check totaling 5,652.25, and making it payable to herself in February 2016. She admitted to authorities that she forced the signature of the Beef Council’s executive director.

Morton, as part of her plea, said that she embezzled funds from her former employer from 2009 through 2016.

The total loss to the Oklahoma Beef Council from her scheme was $2,681,400.73.

Morton also plead guilty to signing a false tax return.

On October 12, 2015, she admitted she had signed a personal federal tax return for the 2014 calendar year, knowing it was false, because it reported only $183,545 in total income.

Morton told investigators she omitted on the 2014 return more than $388,000 of embezzled income for that year from the Oklahoma Beef Council.

She now faces up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud count, plus five years of supervised release, and a $1,000,000 fine. She also faces up to three years in prison on the tax count, in addition to one year of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for the tax loss.

In approximately 90 days, she will be sentenced.