Federal Indictments Name Former Tulsa Employees

Federal indictments charging corruption against two former City of Tulsa employees in the public works department and four officials of engineering and construction companies were unsealed Thursday.
The allegation of fraud, bribery, conspiracy and money laundering innvolved aobut $4.48 million, which the government will seek to recover if those charged are found guilty.
City employees arrested were Larry Wayne Baker, 52, a design engineering manager paid $106,825 and Albert S. Martinez, 47, a field engineering manager paid $42,082. Baker left his city job in 2007 and Martinez resigned Wednesday, a city spokesman said.
Businessmen arrested were: Harlan Eugene Yocham, 49, of Sapulpa, owner of Yocham Enterprises; Max Elliot Wolf, 56, of Owasso, president of Horizon Construction Co., Inc.; Kenneth Kirk Shoemaker, 46, of Bartlesville, president of FBS, Inc. and officer of FBS Engineers, Inc., both Tulsa firms, and Stuart Jay Franklin, 48, of Claremore, an FBS accountant.
The made an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Frank H. McCarthy and released on their own recognizance.
If found guilty the punishments can run from 5 years for bribery, 10 years for conspiracy and 20 years for money laundering and wire fraud with fines up to $250,000.
A federal grand jury returned four indictments on Jan 15. They were unsealed Thursday shortly before the arrested were announced by David E. O’Meilia, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma; James E. Finch, special agent-in-charge of the FBI in Oklahoma, and Michael P. Lahey, who heads the Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation division in Dallas.
O’Meilia said that between mid-2005 and the present the men participated in a scheme that involved the awarding of contracts for engineering and inspections, inflated invoices for street, bridge and other public works projects in the City of Tulsa.
While ethically restrained from saying much more than was in the indictments, O’Meilia said “public corruption is a high priority” in his office that covers 11 northeastern Oklahoma counties.
Finch, who came from Oklahoma City for the announcement, said personally “I find it quite appalling” for government employees to engaged in fraud and bribery.
While O’Meilia said the covert, ongoing investigation began nearly two years ago. Both O’Meilia and Finch declined to describe any details of the investigation.
O’Meilia said none of the work was substandard. Finch said the FBI investigation did not include a review of the plans or inspection of the projects involved.
Lahey that the IRS role in the investigation was “follow the money trail.” There were no accusations in the indictments for tax violations.
“Our investigators are very good at tracking the money,” Lahey said.
O’Meilia said the government would attempt to recover the money and could return much of it to the city. In addition to seeking cash from the defendants if they are found guilty, the federal government may seek their real property located in Tulsa, Bartlesville, Owasso, Claremore, Arizona and Wyoming.
O’Meilia said he notified Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor of the indictments Thursday and she said the city would provide any continuing cooperation needed.



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