(Stillwater, Okla.) — In what is believed to be the largest case of its type ever filed in Payne County District Court, a former office manager of High Country Utilities Inc. (HCU) has now been charged with embezzling a total of $1,364,829.80 during a nearly 10-year period from the company located south of Perkins.
Due to her current charges that were amended last week, Kimberly Kay Turnham, 51, of Perkins, could now be given as much as a 57-year prison term plus a $50,000 fine if convicted of five counts of embezzlement and one count of second-degree forgery by allegedly falsifying entries in a corporate book of accounts between Jan. 2, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2017, court records show.
Turnham, who remains free on $10,000 bond posted on Feb. 6, appeared in court with her attorney, Diane Vaughan of Guthrie, on April 2 on her original charge of one count of embezzling $673,544.17 and requested that her case be reset to June 11 when she can seek a preliminary hearing.
Payne County Sheriff’s Investigator Rockford Brown wrote in a report that on Feb. 27, he met with Dave and Shari Lloyd, the owners of HCU where Turnham was employed from Aug. 30, 2001, until her termination on Dec. 11, 2017, on accusations of embezzlement.
“The Lloyds have gathered more information from their Bank of America (BOA) account, specifically in regards to electric fund transfers (EFT), aka wire transfers, aka online payments that were made by Kim Turnham from the HCU BOA account,” the investigator alleged in his report.
“These wire transfers and online payments were previously undiscovered; this was due to the fact that the accountant did not initially have access to all records from the HCU BOA account, specifically those detailing the EFTs.
“The Lloyds provided records from the BOA account that now go back to Jan. 1, 2008. Multiple online payments were discovered to Capital One credit card accounts that had not yet been discovered. A search warrant was issued on Feb. 5, 2018, for Capital One credit cards.
“It was confirmed through this search warrant that there were EFTs made to these Capital One account numbers from the HCU Bank of America account…the initial forensic accounting only went back to 2011 whereas the second went back to 2008. BOA was unable to generate records further back than 2008.”
In his report, the sheriff’s investigator alleged, “Turnham embezzled from HCU in the following ways: 1) Unauthorized online payments from HCU to credit card accounts belonging to Turnham or close relatives. 2) Direct wire transfers from HCU bank accounts to Turnham’s private bank account and to accounts that were directly for her benefit. 3) Unauthorized payments to vendors from HCU’s BOA checking account. 4) Unauthorized additional payments to herself from HCU’s BOA checking account. 5) Unauthorized use of company credit card.”
The sheriff’s investigator alleged, “Turnham attempted to conceal several of the checks she wrote by altering who the payee was in HCU’s Peachtree accounting software. Turnham would write a check to herself from the HCU BOA account; she would then recode the check as if it were paid to a vendor. By doing this Turnham grossly inflated job costs. One example of Turnham’s concealment methods is check # 28121 written on March 7, 2011, to Turnham for $570.92; she then coded the same check number as paid to Airgas Mid South Inc.”