No one expected what would happen to former Sen. Rick Brinkley.
As he stood for sentencing before a federal judge, Brinkley said, “I am a criminal and deserve to be punished. It was my own fault.”
And the fault of Oklahomans who legalized gambling in this state. Brinkley embezzled about $1,800,000.00 from his former employer, the Better Business Bureau, and gambled it away in tribal casinos. A Republican from Owasso, he was in line to be Senate Pro Tem.
A former Methodist minister, he will check into federal prison in April to complete a 37-month sentence. He was ordered to pay restitution to the BBB and $165,000 in fines to the IRS. The BBB claims to have lost more than 500 members due to the bad publicity for an organization built on honesty and virtue.
Brinkley’s house will be sold and every other asset will be liquidated to help pay restitution and fines.
Brinkley said he never intended to get so deep into crime. It started as what seemed to be harmless trips to tribal casinos as “an escape.” He said he became addicted before he realized what was happening.
But that is how gambling works. The glitzy casinos draw in suckers with scantily clad women, big name entertainment, fine dining and the virtual guarantee of a big payoff.
Who can resist that?
Apparently not a strong Christian with an important role in state government who ran a business that strives for honesty.
This is just one story of the heartbreak and destruction of lives that comes with casino gambling.
Welcome to the new Oklahoma.