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February 8, 2013

Okla. DHS worker resigns amid travel pay questions

OKEMAH — An Oklahoma Department of Human Services supervisor has resigned after being accused of submitting false travel claims.

Sherry Roberts of Weleetka quit Wednesday after being charged Monday, The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/UEcfTE) reported. The agency said two workers also charged let Roberts improperly bill the state $25,258.

The newspaper said William "Bill" Wilson Jr. of Coalgate was a DHS area director until 2012, while Debra Winn of Chandler was a county director until last October.

DHS said Roberts had offices in Shawnee and Chandler but billed for travel from Okemah, where she had no office. The newspaper said Wilson told investigators Roberts was told to maintain an office in Okemah, if only to check her email.

Wilson, 67, was charged in Okfuskee County District Court with presenting false claims against the state. His attorney, Don McFarland of Okemah, said Wilson has pleaded not guilty to the charge but he was not at liberty to discuss details of the case.

Winn, 53, and Roberts, 54, are charged with presenting false claims against the state. Online court records did not identify their attorneys.

DHS investigator Christopher Comer reported in a court affidavit that the false travel claims were completed between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2011.

Roberts then was a supervisor for adult protective services at the Pottawatomie County DHS office in Shawnee and the Lincoln County DHS office in Chandler.

Roberts is accused of falsely stating on her travel claims that her primary place of work was the Okfuskee County DHS center in Okemah, even though she did not have an office there and did not supervise anyone in that county.

She then was reimbursed for her travel between Okemah and Shawnee, according to the DHS investigator.

Roberts acted under the guidance of Wilson and Winn approved the travel claims, the investigator reported.

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