A former accountant for the Oklahoma Beef Council has been sentenced for embezzling nearly $2.7 million from the nonprofit.
Melissa Day Morton, 46, was ordered to pay $3 million in restitution, The Oklahoman reported. The beef council will receive $2.3 million while the rest will go to the IRS and an insurance company.
“While there is no sentence that would truly rectify the harm these crimes have done to our organization and to our producers, we are satisfied knowing we have done everything in our power to cooperate with federal authorities to seek justice,” said Angie Meyer, the council’s current chairman.
Records show that Morton has already paid nearly $238,000 in restitution.
Morton was charged with bank fraud and making a false federal income tax return in May. She forged organization checks from 2009 to 2016, prosecutors said.
“On 790 separate occasions over seven years, Melissa Day Morton used her longtime employer, the Oklahoma Beef Council, as a personal ‘cash cow’ to embezzle $2,681,400 for her personal benefit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris M. Stephens wrote in a court document.
The money was used to fund a children’s clothing boutique in Edmond and to help her family members, Morton said.
Morton executed a sophisticated scheme that went beyond helping her family to support a lavish lifestyle, said U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange.
Morton takes full responsibility and “is incredibly sorry,” according to her attorney Peter L. Scimeca.
The nonprofit supports Oklahoma cattle ranchers. Morton worked for the organization from 1995 until July 2016.