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.