Thursday, September 16, 2010

'Gamblaholic' official admits $1.2M theft in Oklahoma

A former head of audits for an Oklahoma agency overseeing school real estate has admitted embezzling $1.2 million to feed a gambling addiction.Roger Q. Melson Jr. pleaded guilty to 174 counts Friday, The Oklahoman reported. His lawyer, Billy Bock, called him a "gamblaholic" and said he is recovering."He doesn't gamble anymore, and he goes to several support groups," Bock said. "He's been humbled." Melson, 56, director of audits at the Commissioners of the Land Office, set up an account in his name at BancFirst, describing himself as doing business as Commissioner of the Land Office. BancFirst has agreed to give $250,000 to educational foundations to settle a negligence claim.The plea agreement did not specify a sentence, leaving it in the hands of Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson. Prosecutors say they will seek a prison sentence and full restitution when Melson is sentenced Nov. 9.Bock said Melson, who has already given the state his savings and retirement account and works as a janitor at a church, will have a hard time repaying the entire amount."He would have to live a very long time to pay it back," the defense attorney said.
A gambling addict was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for embezzling $1.16 million from a state agency that financially supports schools, colleges and universities.

Roger Q. Melson Jr., 56, of Edmond had sought only probation so he could be a counselor to other problem gamblers and could work to make restitution.

Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson refused, saying that a sentence of only probation or weekends in jail would send the wrong message.

"You should have stopped," the judge said

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