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Six guilty pleas entered in bribery schemes involving Choctaw casino construction projects

Six contractors and construction management officials pleaded guilty Monday to federal bribery and other charges related to Choctaw Nation casino construction projects.
by Randy Ellis Published: August 5, 2013

Six contractors and construction management officials pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges related to bribery schemes involving Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma casino construction projects.

Co-conspirators used money generated by false billings and bribery schemes to finance lavish purchases and travel, including $855,625 spent at Louis Vuitton, $252,061 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $166,695 at Tiffany and Co., and $147,764 at Exclusive Resorts.

At least 52 firearms and firearm-related equipment valued at more than $104,000 also were purchased.

Doug Horn, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, estimated the financial loss to the tribe at about $7 million and said about $6 million in restitution already has been made.

Pleading guilty Monday in Muskogee federal court were two former Tulsa executives with Builders Steel Corp., two former construction management officials for Tulsa-based Flintco, a former Scott Rice office furniture sales executive and a former Choctaw Nation project manager for the Durant Casino and Hotel construction project.

Builders Steel President Lauri Ann Parsons, 45, and her husband, Brent Alan Parsons, 46, carried out three separate schemes to bribe officials and defraud the Choctaw Nation, according to a news release issued by the Muskogee U.S. attorney's office.

The illegal acts were committed from 2008 through 2010.

Various schemes

One scheme involved providing trips, vehicles, firearms, property, furniture, tuition, mortgage payments and other gifts to employees of the Choctaw Nation and Flintco. The gifts were provided in order to obtain bidding preference, higher prices and huge cash advances for services and materials not delivered, according to the news release.

The second scheme involved conspiring to submit $345,000 in false invoices from Scott Rice to the Choctaw Nation. Proceeds allegedly were used to make a $25,000 deposit on an African safari and to purchase firearms, furniture and gifts.

The third scheme, carried out by Brent Parsons and other uncharged co-conspirators, involved agreeing to submit a false invoice from the Worth Group, which designed casinos and parking garages for the Choctaw Nation. Proceeds from that scheme were used to pay for $160,000 in trophy game killed by Brent Parsons and an uncharged co-conspirator at the Heartland Wildlife Ranch in Missouri.

James Winfield Stewart, 43, of Porter, a former salesman for Scott Rice in Oklahoma City who later worked as a salesman for Builders Steel, pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme to submit false invoices from Scott Rice.

Cordell Alan Bugg, 47, of Tulsa, a former Flintco vice president who was involved in the selection of contractors for the casino construction project, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Builders Steel and Lauri Parsons.

The bribes included a new 2009 Chevrolet Suburban, private school tuition payments for his children and mortgage payments, according to the federal charge.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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