Embezzlement charge names store manager

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Embezzlement charge names store manager

A March 20 hearing has been scheduled in Osage County District Court for a Pawhuska grocery store manager charged with felony embezzlement.

Richard Joe Parker, 53, is accused of fraudulently appropriating more than $24,000 from his employer, Pawhuska Hometown Foods. Approximately 11 store deposits from January and February are involved in the case, according to information filed by the Osage County District Attorney’s office.

Pawhuska Police Department received an initial report Feb. 13 regarding four deposits which were “missing” from the store, states an affidavit related to the investigation. Those deposits — containing over $52,000 in cash and checks — had been entrusted to Parker, who allegedly was “the only person employed by the store to have access” to them.

Subsequent investigation by the revealed that several other deposits from the store had been either withheld or turned in late, the affidavit states. Later, when Parker met with investigators to discuss the store funds, he turned over four leather deposit bags which were “minus most of the paper/coin money,” officers said.

While talking to police about the missing money, “he (Parker) said he took full responsibility for it,” the affidavit claims. Parker told the investigators “he first started off by taking cash out of other deposits, to balance out deposits that were short,” the document says.

According to the affidavit, which supports an investigation by the PPD’s Officer Grant West and Cpl. Rex Wikel, states: “The defendant (Parker) said that after a while, he found that it was easy to do, so he just started taking the cash for himself, and paid it back with other deposits.”

“The total of the checks and money found in the (deposit) bags totaled $27,0004.56, with $24,961.00 still missing,” the document says. Investigators allege Parker told them “he spent about $5,000 to $6,000 in gambling.”

“Defendant (Parker) further said that now the missing cash was known about, he does feel somewhat relieved,” the affidavit states.

The charge was filed Feb. 24 and Parker has remained free from jail since Feb. 27 when he signed a $5,000 personal-recognizance bond. Osage County Special Judge Stuart Tate is to conduct the upcoming hearing.

In addition to formerly operating grocery stores in Barnsdall and Fairfax, Parker is an ex-owner of convenience stores in Pawhuska and Barnsdall, as well as a Barnsdall restaurant. He reportedly had been manager at the local supermarket for only a few months. Parker also served a term as the mayor of Barnsdall before losing a 2007 bid for re-election.