Ex-Oklahoma senator sentenced to 37 months for fraud
Former Oklahoma Senator Rick Brinkley of Owasso has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion.
54-year-old Brinkley, a former vice chairman of the Oklahoma Senate’s Finance Committee, admitted Friday he had stolen $1.8 million from a nonprofit agency where he worked for 16 years.
In 2015, the Better Business Bureau accused Brinkley of setting up fake corporations in order to pay his bills and support a gambling habit.
Brinkley worked as president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Tulsa from 1999 to 2011 and continued his job there as chief operating officer until last year, when the BBB sued him for defrauding the agency.
According to investigators, Brinkley created fraudulent invoices for services not rendered and then submitted them to the BBB claiming they were legitimate expenses.
During his tenure at the BBB, he also paid his personal expenses using the agency’s money.
On Friday, the former Republican state senator pleaded guilty in US District Court to five counts of mail fraud in addition to one count of subscribing to a false tax return.
“I’m here because of the crime I committed and I have to accept my punishment,” Brinkley told reporters. “I’m going to pay my debt to society and move on.”
He said as “an escape gambler,” he “needed to go to a place where no one knew me,” adding, “it was a good place to escape, and then it became an addiction.”
During the Friday trial, Brinkley was also ordered to pay restitution of $1.8 million and do 50 hours of community service.
R. Damon Row, an IRS Criminal Investigation agent in charge, said, “Unfortunately, we continue to see the public’s confidence in the tax system shaken by individuals such as Mr. Brinkley, who apparently feel they can operate above the law, and skip out on paying their fair share of income taxes.”