Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice has asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to handle the review of embezzlement allegations against Okmulgee Mayor Richard Larabee.
According to a Facebook press release from the police department, the law enforcement agency received an allegation that Larabee embezzled more than $150,000 while working as the property manager at McCulloch Building Owners LLC. Larabee became the registered agent for the company in March 2020.
“The Okmulgee Police Department received information today from a local business alleging embezzlement of a large amount of money. The [McCulloch] Building Owners LLC has reported former property manager and minority owner, Richard Larabee, allegedly embezzled in excess of $150,000 while working as the building’s property manager,” the press release stated. “Larabee also serves as Okmulgee’s Mayor and is the ceremonial figurehead of the City Council. Although the Council approves contracts, purchases and claims, they have no access to municipal funds.”
Prentice, who also serves on the OSBI Commission, said no police report on the allegation is available from his office because he has referred the case to OSBI.
“Because of his position within city government, I have decided that it would be better to refer this to an outside agency, so that is what we did,” Prentice told NonDoc. “I don’t want to comment on an investigation that is not mine to have.”
Larabee did not respond to a voicemail and a text message seeking comment prior to publication of this story.
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Separate ‘accident’ also of concern in Okmulgee
The allegation that Larabee embezzled from McCulloch Building Owners LLC comes after two weeks of social media rumors that Larabee had embezzled from the Okmulgee Young Professionals organization. No report on that allegation has been filed with the police department, Prentice said.
On Monday, an administrator of the Okmulgee Community Watch Facebook group — Daniel Nimrod Harder — posted about the swirling embezzlement rumors. In his post, Nimrod Harder said Larabee explained away the fiscal concerns regarding the Okmulgee Young Professionals group (sic):
ATTENTION TO ALL MEMBERS OF THIS SITE:
Please read the following statement about our mayor:
I have spoken with the Mayor of Okmulgee, Richard Larabee and have received clarification on the allegations of embezzlement of funds from OYP.
Mr. Larabee stated to me that it was an accident and that he had mistakenly used the credit card that looked the exact same as his personal account from the same bank.
He further explained that not one of those expenses were for the purchase of porn and he has discussed with his wife about taking legal actions against Rose A. Lynch as well as others who have been slandering his name due to their mayoral candidates loss in this last election process.
Addendum***Mr. Larabee also stated this was not the way they would proceed and wished Mrs. Lynch no ill will in her future endeavors.
I at NO TIME in this entire conversation alluded to the fact of whom it was dropping these allegations either.
I have other calls that need returned but wanted you all to know that I’ve spoken with the accused and gotten HIS response to the allegations.
Mr. Larabee also explained that this matter was between OYP and hisself and was a civil matter between the two and he has made good all of those debts made in error.
In essence, he admitted it happened but it happened because of a simple mistake.
OYP didn’t want to pursue the issue any further and all is well.
He further explained that as the mayor of Okmulgee, he doesn’t hold any financial accounts in that capacity and therefore this shouldn’t hold any bearing on his mayoral duties in the future. I tend to agree.
As I’ve said, I have several other people I am awaiting further information from and will post my findings very soon.
I hope this satisfies most of your inquiries about the matter and in the future we will abstain from any further criticisms about our leaders until we’ve heard from those that have been accused.
Thank you one and all.
I see no criminal history of said Mayor when I looked him up. To include traffic citations or orders of protection. Not even a money judgement.
I ask this question of every single one of you: CAN YOU SAY THE SAME ABOUT YOURSELF?
And if you can, I salute you but have you ever made a mistake and made good on it?
Friday afternoon, following the press release from the Okmulgee Police Department regarding the McCulloch Building Owners LLC allegation, Harder made an edit to his original post, adding to its opening:
THE FOLLOWING POST IS HEREBY NULL AND VOID. IT DID NOT AGE WELL AT ALL. Mr. Richard Larabee, how dare you lie to the citizens of Okmulgee County and after I gave you the benefit of the doubt it turns out you DID embezzle funds after all.
May you rot in jail.
Rose Lynch, an Okmulgee community volunteer who was mentioned in Nimrod Harder’s post, told NonDoc on Friday that she finds the situation “tremendously sad.”
“I have concern for Richard Larabee that he finds the help he needs. He obviously is a man who needs some help. Whatever they do legally to him, that is really not my concern,” Lynch said. “I am sad for him, I’m sad for Okmulgee, but I’m happy that truth is coming out, and by that coming out, maybe he’ll get the help he needs.”
Larabee was reelected as Okmulgee City Council member at large on Feb. 8, defeating challenger Letisha Stovall LeBlanc by a margin of 386 votes (54.44 percent) to 323 (45.56 percent). The City Council typically meets on the third Tuesday of each month, which would mean its next meeting could be March 15.