After Sentencing of Melissa Morton for Embezzlement from Oklahoma Beef Council- Former Chair Tom Fanning Calls It Justice ServedThu, 04 Jan 2018 20:00:57 CST
While much of the money is gone and will likely not be paid back- former Oklahoma Beef Council Chair Tom Fanning called the sentencing of Melissa Morton for embezzlement of $2.6 from the Oklahoma Beef Council as "justice served." Morton received a sentence of 57 months in Federal Prison followed by five years of supervised release. According to federal law, Morton will be required to serve at least 80-85% of her sentence.
While Morton was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to the Oklahoma Beef Council- she has currently paid back about ten percent of the money stolen from the Beef Council- the OBC will have to wait for her to pay over $600,000 to the IRS first- they are demanding back taxes, saying the $2.6 million she stole was income that she owes taxes on.
Fanning talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays after the sentencing was complete- that it has been a very difficult time for board members of the Oklahoma Beef Council as they tried to explain to fellow cattle producers the "trust that was broken and the deceit that was brought on us and the level of fraud that she perpetraited." The US Attorney told the judge ahead of sentencing that Morton's actions were deliberate as she carefully kept multiple sets of books, forged 790 checks and fooled several third party auditors over seven years before she was caught. The US Attorney emphasized that the theft was expecially serious as she broke trust as an long time employee of a non profit agency.
Fanning believes that the Oklahoma cattle industry lost far more than just the $2.6 million dollars embezzled as he told Hays that he heard from many cattle producers they considered Morton's actions as reason enough to vote no on the State Beef Checkoff this past November. The secondary state beef checkoff could have raised three million dollars annually for promotion, education and research but failed.
Click on the LISTEN BAR to hear Fanning and Hays on the Sentencing and where the Beef Council goes from here in regaining the trust lost because of Morton's actions. You can read the statement released by the Oklahoma Beef Council right after the sentencing by clicking here.
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