Former HOW Foundation director gets prison term in fraud case
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Friday, November 09, 2012
11/09/12 at 6:19 AM
A former Broken Arrow nonprofit organization leader was sentenced Thursday to one year and three months in prison for defrauding the agency of more than $1.5 million over nearly eight years.
Wesley Scott McGinness, 65, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan to pay $1,584,114.89 in restitution to the HOW Foundation, which he used to serve as executive director.
McGinness had pleaded guilty Aug. 2. He admitted in his plea agreement that he "gambled heavily at casinos in the Tulsa area," using his credit cards, and then wrote checks on HOW's account to pay for his gambling habit.
McGinness, who must begin his prison sentence by Jan. 8, said during Thursday's sentencing hearing that "my actions were inexcusable, your honor."
He stated in his petition to plead guilty that for 20 years he was in treatment for alcohol addiction at the HOW Foundation, which helps men recover from drug- and alcohol-abuse problems.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Leitch wrote in a recent court document, "Alcohol and gambling have been the double-barreled bane of McGinness' life."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tulsa charged McGinness with fraud on June 12, accusing him of using checks drawn on the foundation's bank accounts to pay personal credit card debts from Jan. 13, 2003, until Dec. 14, 2010.
In his guilty plea, McGinness admitted manipulating the organization's books and records "by making false entries which inflated legitimate expenses, thereby fraudulently accounting for the funds."
The HOW Foundation filed a civil suit to recover the money, and a Tulsa County district judge found that the foundation was entitled to a judgment of more than $1.3 million. The group then obtained a temporary injunction preventing McGinness from transferring his assets except to pay for living, medical and legal expenses.
McGinness had also pleaded guilty in August to a charge of filing a false 2008 federal income tax return, agreeing that he owes $366,564.82 to the Internal Revenue Service for the tax years 2006 through 2010, when he did not report on his federal taxes the money he stole from the foundation.
Eagan also ordered McGinness on Thursday to pay that amount to the IRS.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, McGinness could have faced from 41 to 51 months in prison. However, his attorney, Mark Lyons, pointed out in an Oct. 31 filing that McGinness is in "exceedingly poor health" due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and has a life expectancy of five years or less.
Eagan lessened McGinness' punishment range to 15 to 21 months but said she could not go lower than that due to the "egregious nature" of the crime.
Original Print Headline: Ex-HOW Foundation exec gets prison in fraud case
David Harper 918-581-8359
Wesley Scott McGinness: He pleaded guilty in August to "gambling heavily at casinos in the Tulsa area," using his credit cards and then writing checks on HOW's account to pay for his gambling debt. He was sentenced to one year and three months for defrauding the agency and was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution to the agency.