The Oklahoma Beef Council has confirmed that federal authorities are investigating a possible $2.6 embezzlement by a former employee, reports the High Plains Journal. A statement by Heather Buckmaster, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Beef Council, reads that results on an internal investigation into potential wrongdoing has been turned over to federal authorities in Oklahoma. “Due to an ongoing criminal case and civil matters, we are limited in the details we can share,” Buckmaster said in the statement.
According to Harvest Public Media, no criminal charges have been filed, but the non-profit Oklahoma Beef Council in October 2016 filed a civil lawsuit seeking the recovery of money it says was obtained by its former accounting and compliance manager, identified in court records as Melissa Morton. The employee allegedly forged checks dating back to 2009.
The Oklahoma Beef Council fired the employee after initial evidence was discovered and hired an accounting firm to investigate the group’s finances. TheCouncil reported its findings to the federal government in September 2016.
“Our goal throughout this process has been to speed recovery and restitution to the greatest extent possible. The board of directors and staff have cooperated fully with Federal authorities as the investigation has moved forward,” said Buckmaster.
Tom Fanning, a cattleman and the Chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council, said in a statement, “Our board and staff take great pride in serving beef producers in investing their Beef Checkoff dollars to grow and protect beef demand. Discovering you have a staff member that did not share that vision and abused our trust, has been a devastating blow to all of us. We have taken every step to address this matter to ensure we are following through in our responsibilities to Oklahoma beef producers and are awaiting the results of the criminal investigation.”