(Update: On Feb. 23, 2023, former Okmulgee Mayor Richard Larabee was charged with two counts of felony embezzlement. The charges accuse him of “fraudulently appropriating the sum of $152,144.67 that belonged to McCullouch Building Owners, LLC” and of “fraudulently appropriating the sum of $34,399.32 that belonged to Agape Pregnancy Center.” The following article remains in its original form.)
Okmulgee Mayor Richard Larabee resigned today, less than a week after law enforcement received an allegation that he embezzled more than $150,000 while working as the property manager at McCulloch Building Owners LLC.
“I hate that I’ve heard people associating these private allegations brought against me with any of you or your efforts, so I am resigning my position as mayor of Okmulgee,” Larabee wrote in his resignation letter Tuesday.
Larabee addressed his letter to fellow City Council members and city manager Tom Giulioli:
TO THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS:
The time I have been able to serve with you, including those of you that work at the City, has been some of my very best memories. It’s my sincerest hope that the accusations brought against me will no longer impede your work. I hate that I’ve heard people associating these private allegations brought against me with any of you or your efforts, so I am resigning my position as Mayor of Okmulgee. I know Vice-Mayor Baldwin has the same heart for Okmulgee that I do, and you’ll be in the best of hands between his leadership and the continued leadership of our City Manager, Tom Giulioli. I am very proud of our Council— Everett Horn, Dawn Carter and Marcus Jeffrey, each of you have been amazing to serve with and I’m excited to see what you’ll continue to do for Okmulgee. My family and I will keep you all in our prayers.
Larabee provided his resignation letter when contacted by text message, but he declined to comment on the allegations against him.
Swirling social media rumors
On Friday, Okmulgee police announced via a Facebook press release that they had asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to handle the review of the allegations against Larabee.
Social media rumors had churned for weeks that Larabee had improperly spent funds from the Okmulgee Young Professionals organization, but Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said the allegation reported to his office related to Larabee’s interest in the McCulloch Building in downtown Okmulgee.
The Okmulgee Young Professionals issued a Facebook press release Wednesday regarding the allegation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2022
On behalf of the Okmulgee Young Professionals (OYP), we would like to take this opportunity to make a public statement regarding the circumstances that have occurred in our organization regarding Richard Larabee.
Richard Larabee was the treasurer for our nonprofit organization. After a phone call from our bank, it was brought to our attention that our account balance had been overdrawn. We then began an internal investigation done by our board, where it was discovered there were several unknown transactions and withdrawals. We brought this to the attention of Mr. Larabee in hopes he could further explain and help us understand what the transactions were. He informed us that the transactions were mistakenly made and would be taken care of.
We sought legal advice throughout the entire process and have since been continuing to work under that advice. An agreement was made to ask for the immediate resignation of Mr. Larabee as treasurer and member of OYP, along with Crystal Larabee, as board member and member of OYP. All monies were immediately reimbursed directly to the organization totaling less than $2,000. We chose not to make an immediate statement regarding these matters until our organization had been reimbursed in full for the unexplained transactions and the requests for resignations had been fulfilled.
The Okmulgee Young Professionals appreciate everyone for being patient with us during this matter. We are doing everything we can to protect our organization as well as our integrity, and we feel this matter was handled the best it could have been for this unfortunate situation. Our hope is that even through this, the community of Okmulgee will still stand behind us and support our effort to “Advocate— Promote — Beautify” our community and businesses.
Board of the Okmulgee Young Professionals
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).
(Editor’s note: This article was updated at 12:46 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, to include a statement from the Okmulgee Young Professionals organization.)