Former Oklahoma Beef Council employee Melissa Mortenson pled guilty this week to embezzling $2.6 million from the beef checkoff over the course of seven years. She now awaits sentencing from the court. The Beef Council Board of Directors says this is a significant step towards bringing the criminal matter to a conclusion. “We are indebted to federal investigators for the speed at which this has moved,” a Board-issued statement says, “We believe this has been due in part to the quality of evidence we have turned over to investigators.” The Board is aggressively pursuing efforts to maximize the $2.68 million dollar restitution awarded by a civil court last month. The board says the matter has been incredibly complicated as it’s moved through civil and criminal courts. They’re limited in the information they can release to the public and will be for a few months as the case moves into the sentencing phase. The Oklahoma Beef Council has taken several steps to strengthen internal mechanisms to ensure accounting integrity and has retained an outside accounting firm to provide additional oversight.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.