Months of investigation culminated in an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Director David Glenn Moore, who is accused of taking as much as $439,000 between July 2009 and June 2014, according to an affidavit filed by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Vicky Lyons.
Lyons said Tuesday that the latest information gathered by investigators suggests Moore, 47, is still in Oklahoma. He reportedly lived in the Catoosa area when the probe began last summer.
“We have been in touch with his attorney, working to arrange to have [Moore] turn himself in,” Lyons said.
Moore would be required to post a $30,000 bond, which was set by Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins, according to the arrest warrant. Formal charges were filed in Cherokee County District Court.
According to District Attorney Brian Kuester, Moore could be arraigned as early as next week.
“As with all people that have been charged with having committed a criminal offense, Mr. Moore is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Kuester said in a prepared statement he issued shortly after the charges were made public.
Moore abruptly resigned from his Chamber post in June 2014, when board members began to question him about the possible theft of funds, according to Lyons.
In her affidavit, Lyons said the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Special Investigations Unit audited the Chamber and concluded that, between June 2009 and June 2014, the total “potential misappropriation of funds and questionable expenditures” from Chamber coffers hit just shy of $440,000.
Lyons’ affidavit suggests a number of local Chamber supporters fell victim to Moore’s alleged misuse of funds:
• Rupham Gandhi, described in court documents as a local business owner, told investigators Moore solicited a loan in May 2014 while claiming the Chamber was short of funds for a locally sponsored trip. Gandhi provided a personal check to Moore with the loan to be paid in full the next day, but Moore failed to return the money by the time he resigned. Gandhi told investigators Moore also solicited other donations from him.
• Patsiann Smith provided Moore with a loan on Nov. 25, 2013, when Moore told Smith the Chamber needed a new heat and air system. Board members did not authorize the agreement, according to Lyons’ report. Moore allegedly made three payments to Smith with Chamber funds, but when he provided Smith a check in May 2014, the bank account did not have sufficient funds.
• Trae Ratliff told investigators that in January 2013, Moore asked him to donate funds from a Leadership Tahlequah class to pay for new carpet in the Chamber offices. According to Lyons, Ratliff said he gave Moore a “cash bag” containing $4,700, which had been raised by a Leadership Tahlequah class. When Ratliff began to question Moore about the money in May 2013, Moore filed a burglary report with Tahlequah police, and claimed the cash bag had been stolen.
• Former Chamber Treasurer Patti Morton told investigators Moore began taking funds from the bank account of Leadership Tahlequah in 2013 “under the guise of needing it for operating expenses,” according to Lyons. When confronted by members of the Leadership Tahlequah class, Moore allegedly agreed to use Chamber money to give a $25,000 donation to the city of Tahlequah in the name of the class. In October 2013, Moore provided the city a check for $25,000, but it was returned by the bank for insufficient funds.
• Dr. Robert Stephen Jones told investigators that in November 2013, Moore requested a loan and again said the Chamber needed new carpet. Jones gave Moore a loan of $4,000, made payable to the Chamber of Commerce. Over a period of time, Moore reportedly paid back the majority of the loan using Chamber funds.
Lyons’ report also details the use of Chamber money, allegedly by Moore, to pay personal bills or to cover costs of the former tourism director’s insurance and medicine.
Records from Tahlequah Drug Co. show that, between October 2013 and March 2014, a credit card belonging to the Chamber was used to buy prescriptions for former Tahlequah Area Tourism Director Kate Kelly. The amount charged to the card was more than $492, Lyons reported.
Kelly told investigators that in September or October 2013, she learned her employer-provided medical insurance had lapsed. Kelly told Moore about the problem, and Moore allegedly began to use Chamber money to pay for Kelly’s prescription costs. Kelly also reportedly told Lyons that Moore gave her checks, which had been drawn on the Chamber account for about $1,910, to help her pay for medical bills and privately-purchased insurance. Kelly later revealed the issues to the Tourism Board members.
Records show a Chamber debit card was used to pay more than $700 on a Public Service Company of Oklahoma account in Moore’s name. That card was used at least 37 times, at a cost of nearly $1,500, to make online payments to Moore’s Pikepass account between 2009 and 2014.
More than $4,700 from the Chamber bank account was used for an AT&T account belonging to Moore, and just more than $1,000 was used to pay Moore’s AAA insurance between 2011 and 2014.
A previous investigation by the Daily Press into Chamber bank records revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars had been withdrawn from the entity’s bank account at ATMs and casinos over a span of several years.
Some Chamber board members have suggested they were unaware a debit card existed for the entity’s bank account.
If convicted, Moore could spend up to 10 years in prison and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000, plus restitution.
As of Tuesday evening, he had not turned himself in at the Cherokee County Detention Center.