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Oklahoma City’s Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis, Jr. was charged late Friday with felony embezzlement and intentionally failing to file a tax return to defraud the state.

Pettis, 35, is running for the open Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner seat.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater charged Pettis with three felony counts of embezzlement of over $165,000 connected to three charities the councilman set up and one count of intentionally failing to file a tax return for the years 2009 to 2017.

The charges were filed at 4:02 p.m. Friday.

Monday, investigators confronted Pettis and his attorney, Mark Henricksen, with the findings from an investigation that started with a complaint called into the Oklahoma City Police Department but was carried by Oklahoma County DA investigator William Muller.

FBI agents also contributed to the year-long investigation with forensic examinations of the bank accounts of the charities.

Pettis’ attorney told The Associated Press Monday his client intends to plead not-guilty to the charges later in the week.


The investigator’s affidavit filed Friday named three charities that Pettis established and withdrew cash from without records that show any other recipient.

They were The Southern Leadership Enhancement Center, the Oklahoma Institute for Minority Affairs, and the Rhonda K Hutson Foundation.

The affidavit asserted that there had been no apparent activity of the charities according to their stated purpose and that Pettis was the sole signor on the bank accounts.

Tax returns

Another entity Pettis established was for-profit PHA Consulting Inc which had not filed any tax returns or paid any estimated taxes.

Muller’s affidavit also stated that the Oklahoma Tax Commission had no record of Pettis filing an individual tax return.

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