TULSA, Okla. – Two-term Oklahoma State Senator Rick Brinkley has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than 1.2 million dollars from the Better Business Bureau.
The 54-year-old senator pleaded guilty to five-counts of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.
Officials say that from August 2, 1999 to April 26, 2015, Brinkley served as the President and Chief Executive Officer and then the Chief Operations Officer of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
During his employment, he was responsible for the operation, accounting, and financial management including paying bills and signing checks on behalf of the BBB.
Brinkley allegedly admitted to diverting more than $1.2 million dollars from the BBB through the creation of fraudulent invoices for services not rendered, and improperly represented these invoices as reimbursement for legitimate BBB expenses.
He also allegedly admitted he fraudulently signed checks, transferred, used, and disbursed BBB funds to pay personal expenses and debts including mortgage payments, expenses for pool cleaning services at his home, and his personal American Express, Discover, and Visa cards.
Brinkley further admitted that he used BBB’s credit card to make cash withdrawals at automated teller machines located within casinos to support his gambling habit and that he would also create and process for payment false invoices using BBB’s funds for payment.
The United States believes the loss amount is closer to $1.8 million.
Brinkley also allegedly admitted that he failed to report monies and funds on his federal tax return and that he subscribed a false tax return for 2013 by failing to report approximately $148,390 in income.
Following his plea, Brinkley sent his letter of resignation to the Oklahoma Secretary of State.
“Due to personal reasons I hereby irrevocably resign my office as State Senator for District 34 effective immediately,” his letter said.
Brinkley represented the 34th District, including Owasso, Collinsville, Skiatook, Sperry, Turley, and Tulsa.
His sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2015.
He is facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charges and a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for filing a false tax return.
Officials say he has also agreed to the forfeiture of funds in the amount of $1,829,033.86 representing proceeds of the wire fraud scheme.