Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
A former Hartshorne city clerk is accused of theft of federal funds, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
Meredith Dawn Dunkin is accused of one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds from 2013 to 2016 while she was Hartshorne’s city clerk, according to documents filed Thursday by Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Brian J. Kuester’s office.
Information in the cases alleges Dunkin received more than $10,000 in benefits under a federal program involving a grant, contract, subsidy, loan, guarantee, insurance, or other federal assistance from 2013 to 2016.
Kuester’s office alleged Dunkin obtained the funds “by fraud, embezzlement, and otherwise without authority, property worth at least $5,000 owned by the City of Hartshorne."
Court documents state Dunkin shall forfeit anything obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the charges if convicted.
The News-Capital opened a special investigation into Hartshorne’s questionable financial activity in 2016 after filing requests through the Open Records Act for credit card receipts and other financial activities.
City council members filed Open Records requests around the same time Hartshorne residents circulated petitions requesting the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office to conduct an investigatory audit into the city’s finances.
An investigatory audit into City of Hartshorne finances by the State Auditor and Inspector’s office released in October 2017 shows Dunkin “charged at least $80,083.35 in personal expenditures with the City’s Visa credit card” from July 2009 through July 2016.
The state audit included an executive summary that showed possibly $1,725,336.16 of the city’s utility revenues was not deposited during the audit’s scope. The 2017 audit states Dunkin broke the law and did not fulfill responsibilities as city clerk.
“Dunkin charged 354 personal transactions totaling $80,083.35 on the city’s Visa credit card” between July 2011 and August 2016, the audit states.
Payments made with the city credit card by Dunkin include for federal taxes, Dallas Cowboys, Oklahoma City Thunder and Texas Rangers game tickets, charges to Amazon and various stores, a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, and more.
Dunkin retired from her position with the city prior to the audit. Shirley Day — who was also criticized in the State Auditor and Inspector’s audit — retired as city treasurer and Carolyn Trueblood resigned as the city’s mayor.
The News-Capital obtained documents showing Dunkin’s distributions and debits to her account through the City of Hartshorne’s retirement plan with Oklahoma Municipal Retirement Fund totaled $77,298.07 before it was closed.
Documents show Day’s accounts through the city’s retirement plan totaled $79,931.60.
Both completely withdrew those accounts as of June 16, 2017, documents show.
On forms required to access retirement accounts, Day signed as the “Authorized Agent” on behalf of Dunkin, and signed her own forms along with then-Mayor Trueblood.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org