Tahlequah Daily Press

October 9, 2013

Risk pool files suit against Gassaway

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A self-insured risk pool that provides liability protection to rural water districts in Oklahoma is seeking more than $10,000 from a Hulbert woman whose criminal embezzlement charge was recently dismissed by a judge.

Oklahoma Rural Water Association Assurance Group has filed its petition in Cherokee County District Court against Patricia Gassaway, a former employee of Rural Water District No. 11.

Gassaway and her husband, Michael Gassaway, recently filed a petition against RWD 11, alleging wrongful termination and other acts. Patricia Gassaway was terminated from employment in 2010, and was later accused of embezzling more than $10,000.

A judge dismissed the charge a few months ago for lack of evidence.

According to ORWAAG’s petition against Patricia Gassaway, while the state’s embezzlement case was dismissed due to a lack of probable cause, “ORWAAG contents that Patricia Gassaway did, in fact, steal the $10,157.11 in missing funds from RWD [No. 11].”

After learning about the missing funds, officials with RWD 11 made a claim with ORWAAG to recover the $10,000-plus; and once criminal charges were filed, the risk pool paid the amount to the district to settle its claim.

ORWAAG’s petition claims Patricia Gassaway is liable for the funds because she “is solely responsible for the damages sustained by [ORWAAG] in this lawsuit.”

Aside from the $10,157.11, ORWAAG is asking for pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, and attorney fees.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com