Embezzlement is the ultimate crime of opportunity.
People who probably wouldn't even dream of robbing a bank will succumb to temptation and help themselves to stacks of their employer's money. Sometimes the perpetrators are motivated by financial need, perhaps caused by addiction. On other occasions, it's pure greed. Other times, the motivation to steal is not so easy to explain.
Some of the most notable cases filed in recent years in Tulsa federal court that involved stealing an employer's money:
- James R. Cooley, 45, pleaded guilty in November to a wire fraud charge connected to his embezzlement of nearly $700,000 from Newfield Exploration Co. Cooley was employed as the regional human resources manager in Newfield's Tulsa office from September 2007 until January 2011. Cooley admitted in his plea agreement that beginning in the autumn of 2008, he began to create false invoices and would then submit them on behalf of a consulting company he created. Cooley is scheduled to be sentenced on April 23.
- James Lamar "Marty" Gresham, 52, pleaded guilty in September to a bank fraud charge, admitting that he stole more than $1.5 million over nearly four years by forging more than 500 checks drawn on an account of his then-employer, Frontier International Trucks in Tulsa. Gresham's job as controller at the company at the time allowed him access to the company's financial records and bank accounts, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24.
- Wesley Scott McGinness, 67, a former executive director of the HOW Foundation, was sentenced in November 2012 to one year and three months in prison for defrauding the agency of more than $1.5 million over nearly eight years. He admitted in his plea agreement that he "gambled heavily at casinos in the Tulsa area," using credit cards, and then wrote checks on HOW's account to pay for his gambling habit. He admitted writing $1,359,714.89 in unauthorized checks and embezzling about $224,000 from the cash receipts from the organization's thrift store.
- Janice Mora Adams, 56, was sentenced in July 2012 to four years and nine months in prison and was ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution after pleading guilty to misapplying funds while she worked as a senior vice president for private banking and internal control officer at Peoples Bank. She stated in court documents that she initiated fraudulent loans and accounts as part of a scheme in which she embezzled funds from May 2004 until February 2010.
- Floyd Lee Cleghorn, 47, was sentenced in October 2011 to 18 months in prison and was ordered to pay $346,000 in restitution to AAON, Inc., where he had worked unloading trucks and verifying inventory. The charge to which he pleaded guilty alleged that he caused the company to purchase items that it didn't need and then would sell them on the online auction website eBay.com. His petition to plead guilty said he had received mental health treatment for kleptomania.
- Elizabeth A. Stanley, 54, was sentenced in October 2011 to one year and three months in prison and was ordered to pay $118,956.87 in restitution after pleading guilty to willfully misapplying funds while she worked at First National Bank & Trust Co. of Miami, Okla. Though not charged as an embezzlement case, Stanley admitted in her plea agreement that she stole money by converting checks to her own use and taking money that she was supposed to be putting in automated teller machines.
- Thomas Clark Rondot, 67, was sentenced in July 2011 to two years in prison on a tax-evasion conviction connected to his embezzlement from the Crosby Group, Inc. for whom he used to work as chief financial officer. He conceded in his plea agreement that he owed more than $1.3 million in restitution to the Crosby Group and an insurance company for conduct "that is not the offense of conviction." U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan indicated during Rondot's sentencing hearing that Rondot had embezzled for more than three years and did not pay taxes on the stolen money.