AP NEWS

Embezzlement counts dropped for ex-Oklahoma City councilman

May 9, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed embezzlement charges against a former Oklahoma City councilman accused of taking at least $165,000 from charities under his control.

Oklahoma County court records indicate three embezzlement counts against John Albert Pettis Jr. were dismissed Wednesday. Pettis, 36, still faces a felony charge of failing to file state income tax returns.

Pettis resigned from his council seat shortly after the charges were filed in May 2018. He was accused of taking funds from the Oklahoma Institute for Minority Affairs, a charity Pettis founded, and of making cash withdrawals from the Rhonda K Hutson Foundation, a charity whose stated mission is increasing awareness of an aggressive type of breast cancer. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he dismissed the embezzlement counts because he didn’t have confidence in the evidence supporting them, The Oklahoman reported .

“I had questions on the credibility of the allegations provided to me by the witnesses for those charges,” Prater said.

Investigators said they were unable to verify Pettis and the charities performed any work for the community’s benefit.

But defense attorney Mark Henricksen said he presented evidence of charitable activities from the nonprofits and didn’t have the same concerns as the district attorney about witness credibility.

“We had produced significant information that Mr. Pettis had provided valuable contributions to the community from the charities involved,” Henricksen said. “I was very pleased and relieved that the embezzlement charges were dropped.”

The charge Pettis still faces alleges that he intentionally failed to file income tax returns. According to a court affidavit, Pettis didn’t file any Oklahoma tax returns from 2009 to 2017 as an individual or for his corporations.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com