March 11, 2016 / 7:11 PM / 4 years ago

Former Oklahoma senator sentenced to 37 months for embezzling

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A former Oklahoma state senator was sentenced on Friday to 37 months in prison after admitting to using his senior position with the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa to embezzle at least $1.8 million, court officials said.

Rick Brinkley of Owasso, who served as a Republican senator, admitted to the embezzlement during a plea deal with prosecutors, officials with the U.S. District Court in Tulsa said on Friday. Judge Claire Eagan also ordered Brinkley to pay restitution of $1.8 million and perform 50 hours of community service.

Brinkley last summer pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of signing a false tax return.

U.S. Attorney Danny Williams previously said that over a nine-year period, Brinkley used Better Business Bureau funds to pay $300,000 on a personal credit card, cashed bureau checks issued for phony invoices and used the business accounts to pay his mortgage and pool expenses.

Brinkley’s defense team previously said the former senator decided to plead guilty because it was in the best interest of his family and friends. He resigned last August from the state Senate.

“Defendant Brinkley devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud the BBB and obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representation, and promises,” the original indictment said.

Brinkley, a state senator since 2010 who served as the vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, worked for the Better Business Bureau for more than 15 years, including 12 as chief executive.

“It is without question that Mr. Brinkley’s fraudulent criminal behavior over many years has severely damaged BBB Tulsa,” the organization said in its victim impact statement, citing a resulting loss of more than 500 members.

Brinkley’s attorney Mack Martin previously said his client has since completed an in-patient gambling addiction treatment program.

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