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No charges to be filed in Piedmont PD embezzlement case

Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Canadian County District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue charges after reviewing the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation’s case in the theft of about $1,000 from the Piedmont police department earlier this year.

District Attorney Michael Fields wrote in an email to the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette Monday, “The OSBI recently completed its investigation of an alleged theft/embezzlement from the City of Piedmont involving approximately $1,000. The investigation shows that during the relevant timeframe, a handful of people either had or potentially had access to this money. There isn’t enough evidence to determine who stole or embezzled the money. Therefore, our office is declining to file charges related to this investigation.”
Even though the D.A.’s office didn’t file charges, that doesn’t mean they haven’t shut the door on this case forever.“If additional evidence comes to light, my office will certainly re-consider its decision not to file charges,” Fields wrote.
Piedmont Fraternal Order of Police Chairman and Piedmont police officer Craig Curtner has said from the beginning he wanted the public to know that this was not a Piedmont police officer who took the money.

“None of the officers, including the supervisors were ever questioned as suspects,” Curtner said. “None of our officers were ever under suspicion and there was never any allegation that it was a police officer that did it. I think OSBI had one or two suspects in mind and I think they ran those angles pretty good. I think they lacked the evidence to prosecute.”

If the D.A.’s office gains new evidence and decides to file charges stemming from the theft, the penalties for someone convicted of embezzlement in Canadian County vary.

According to the statute, embezzlement is defined as “the fraudulent appropriation of property of any person or legal entity, legally obtained, to any use or purpose not intended or authorized by its owner, or the secretion of the property with the fraudulent intent to appropriate it to such use or purpose.”
Under Chapter 59, Title 1451, If the value of the property embezzled is One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or more but less than Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00), any person convicted shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term of not more than five (5) years, and a fine of not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), and ordered to pay restitution to the victim as provided in Section 991f of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes;
The penalties are stronger if the theft is more than $1,000. If the value of the property embezzled is Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or more but less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), any person convicted shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one (1) year or by imprisonment in the county jail for one or more nights or weekends pursuant to Section 991a-2 of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes, at the discretion of the court, and shall be subject to a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), and ordered to pay restitution to the victim.”

Under Subsection C, “Any county or state officer, deputy or employee of such officer, who shall divert any money appropriated by law from the purpose and object of the appropriation, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years, and a fine equal to triple the amount of money so embezzled and ordered to pay restitution to the victim as provided in Section 991f of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

The fine shall operate as a judgment lien at law on all estate of the party so convicted and sentenced, and shall be enforced by execution or other process for the use of the person whose money or other funds or property were embezzled.

In other police news, two new officers have been hired in Piedmont.

3 Comments

  1. JT says:

    What does it say about the police department’s ability to solve crimes if they can’t even catch the person who stole $1000 right under their noses?

    • Richard Jones says:

      Ah, JT, My Friend.

      The Evelyn Wood Method of newspaper article analysis does not do you justice. Granted, the famine of fun reader comments trolling for semi-literate responses on this site has been obvious of late, it appears necessary to re-state the main point of Mr. Montgomery’s article, in that it was, in fact, the OSBI, that didn’t close the deal. It would have been an obvious conflict of interest for the Piedmont Police Department to investigate itself.

      That being said, the evidence trail appears to have only led so far, and that relatively speaking, it makes little administrative sense to spend considerable public resources to find, prosecute, and then possibly convict a suspected common thief that absconded with less money than what one could recover in Small Claims Court.

      While there were apparently only a few suspects – Absolutely None of Whom Were (according to the State’s chief investigatory branch – The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) Piedmont’s Boys In Blue, rest assured that such behavior will most likely repeat itself at some point, and the perpetrator will become known (if that knowledge is not already informally common in the halls of the City). Such petty theft is rarely an isolated incident.

      I have met members of the Law Enforcement wing of Piedmont’s Finest in both their unofficial, and unfortunately at times, official capacities. Based on the obvious, esteemed, and well-documented street cred of the recently hired Chief Singer and the caliber of officers that we now have on staff, it is my firm belief that the citizens of Piedmont will continue to be well-served by a team of individuals who only have the best interests of our peaceful suburban community at heart.

      They are on our side, Slick – You really gotta git next to that.

  2. JT says:

    I understand that the OSBI did the investigation. What I don’t understand is how you leave that much cash unsecured in a government office. Where I work, only a handful of people have access to the petty cash fund. It would appear that it was only $150 that was stolen from the police department petty cash fund. $850 was taken from the City Clerk’s office. It would be nice if I didn’t have to go to other news sources to get accurate information about the community in which I live.

    If the PPD want to build street cred with the folks in Piedmont they should try to actually interact with the community. Get off the section line roads and patrol the neighborhoods. Even (perish the thought) get our of their patrol cars and stop to talk to residents to build a rapport with them. You can’t wait for people to come to you to build relationships. As it stands now the only time I see them is when they are hiding in the weeds, driving down the main roads or at parades.

    Maybe sometime I can tell you about my experience with their intrusion onto my property.

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