By Patti Weaver
(Chandler, Okla.) — Former Tryon Police Chief Jered Dewayne Prickett, 48, who admitted embezzling and misappropriating town funds between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 13, 2019, has been placed on five years’ probation with an order to pay $54,787.50 in restitution to the Lincoln County town, court records show.
Prickett, who made a $14,185.50 payment toward his total restitution on Sept. 5, was ordered to pay $650 each month beginning on Nov. 1 until the entire amount of restitution is paid, court records show.
Prickett had pleaded guilty last week to two counts of embezzlement and one count of conspiracy, court records show.
As part of a plea agreement with the prosecution approved in court by Lincoln County District Judge John G. Canavan Jr. last week, Prickett was given a five-year deferred sentence along with a $100 fine and $100 to the victims’ compensation fund, court records show.
Prickett, who also served as utility operator and animal control officer in addition to his role as police chief, officially resigned effective June 13, 2019, according to a state audit.
His wife, Candace Marie Prickett, 48, who admitted receiving $5,212.50 in unauthorized payroll between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 13, 2019, was placed on two years’ probation for embezzlement and conspiracy on Sept. 5 when she made full restitution of $5,212.50, court records show. In accordance with a plea agreement with the prosecution, she was given a two-year deferred sentence along with a $100 fine and $100 to the victims’ compensation fund by Judge Canavan, court records show.
Candace Prickett had been appointed as town clerk-treasurer in January 2011 and later as also the Tryon Utility Authority utility operator, a state audit showed.
“She improperly remained in the elected position for over eight years,” in violation of town ordinances and state law until she resigned effective June 17, 2019, the audit alleged.
Jessica Marie Turpin, 33, a utility clerk for the Tryon Utility Authority, was accused of having received $3,120 in unauthorized payroll between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 13, 2019, a state audit alleged. Turpin, who was also designated as court clerk, served in both positions until she was terminated in November of 2020, the audit alleged.
Turpin’s two-count felony charge of embezzlement and conspiracy was dismissed on Sept. 1 by the prosecution and refiled as misdemeanor embezzlement in which she was accused of fraudulently appropriating $3,120 for 280 hours of hazard pay that was unauthorized by the city of Tryon, court records show. She was ordered to appear in court on Sept. 26, court records show.
The alleged embezzlement by the three town officials was discovered as a result of an investigative audit performed by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd, according to a news release on Feb. 3, 2022.
Tryon, which has a population of about 500 and an annual budget of approximately $750,000, is managed as a Town Board of Trustees, the news release said.
According to the audit, “In May 2019, after it was discovered that sufficient funds were not available to meet the Town’s financial obligations, board members became aware of the following:
* The police chief had reported W-2 earnings for 2018 of $106,000.
* The Town’s bank account was overdrawn by approximately $8,000.
* The Town was several months behind on paying bills.
* Purchase orders were being pre-signed.
* Credit card statements were being paid but not shown to the Board.
“Based on this information, the Board became concerned about the Town’s ability to meet future financial obligations. On June 12, 2019, the Board requested the State Auditor & Inspector’s Office conduct an investigative audit of the Town and the Tryon Utility Authority,” the audit said.
Criminal charges were subsequently filed against the three town officials by the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office on May 10, 2022, court records show.