BBB lawsuit claims Rick Brinkley embezzled

Sen. Rick Brinkley

Sen. Rick Brinkley

The Tulsa World is reporting today a lawsuit filed late Friday afternoon by the Better Business Bureau alleging State Sen. Rick Brinkley embezzled more than $1 million during his 15 years as an executive with the organization.

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,” as reported by Randy Krehbiel, long a political reporter for the daily paper.

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.

Sen Rick BrinkleyBrinkley 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.

Click here for more from the Tulsa World and a PDF of the court filing.