Document: Read the Brinkley lawsuit
Related story: Rick Brinkley replaced on Senate leadership team
State Sen. Rick Brinkley embezzled more than $1 million during his 15 years as an executive with the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa, the organization alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday.
The BBB says Brinkley set up corporate entities to receive payments for phony credit card accounts and other alleged business expenses. It also alleges that Brinkley funneled money from his state campaign fund to a phony vendor.
The suit, filed in Tulsa County District Court, alleges that Brinkley used the embezzled funds to “pay his mortgage, pool cleaner, personal credit card invoices, and to support a hidden gambling habit.”
The matter is also being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Brinkley’s attorney, Mack Martin of Oklahoma City, said he had not been informed of the lawsuit and could not comment because “I don’t know anything.”
Better Business Bureau attorney Kirk Turner declined to comment.
Brinkley, who was in line to become president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate until last week, is a Collinsville Republican representing north Tulsa County. He has been a minister, a television producer and a consultant to the Miss Oklahoma pageant.
Last week it was revealed that Brinkley had written a check for nearly $50,000 to the BBB from his campaign account. Brinkley told the state Ethics Commission he had intended to write the check on his personal account but used a campaign check by mistake.
The lawsuit claims that the check was intended to “deceitfully conceal the actual condition of the BBB from its Board of Directors.”
Brinkley served as president and chief executive officer of the organization from Aug. 2, 1999, to May 31, 2011, and as chief operating officer from June 1, 2011, until April 26, when he was fired.
According to court documents, Brinkley created phony entities called AECS Inc. and DCS Inc., to which he had the Better Business Bureau direct payments for supposed American Express and Discover Card expenses.
The lawsuit alleges that more than $375,000 in fraudulent payments were made over five years. Similar accounts were set up for Barclays Card Services and a company called CTW Inc., it claims. The latter, the suit says, apparently took its name from the title of Brinkley’s book “Communicate to Win.” The suit says records show more than $184,000 flowing into CTW Inc. from Brinkley’s campaign fund and the Better Business Bureau over a five-year period.
The alleged scheme is similar to one used by Roger Melson, former audit director of the Land Office Commission, to embezzle more than $1.1 million from 2004-09. Melson set up a phony bank account into which he deposited checks intended for the Land Office. He pleaded guilty to 174 counts of embezzlement in 2010.
Friday’s lawsuit says the BBB doesn’t know when Brinkley began the alleged embezzlement, but it documents some allegations going back at least five years. One other allegation, involving a rented storage unit, goes back more than 10 years, according to the court petition.
In addition to the fake accounts, the Better Business Bureau alleges that Brinkley took cash advances for business trips he never made, drawing on the organization’s line of credit for his own use and falsifying records to hide discrepancies.
The case was assigned to Associate District Judge Dana Kuehn.
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365