OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office is reviewing alleged financial discrepancies at a now-closed Calera tag agency.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission referred the matter to Hunter’s office after an internal memo referenced “unethical activities” and actions that are “a major red flag” at the Red River Tag Agency, which had been run by Rhonda Short.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission found discrepancies totaling $322,795, said Paula Ross, Oklahoma Tax Commission spokeswoman. The dollar amount was repaid after Short was notified of the problem, she said.

According to the memo, a review found that Short issued commercial trailer tag renewals. She then voided them and issued the renewals with a smaller count of trailers, the memo says.

The Tax Commission received a resignation letter from Short on April 9.

“After visiting with my doctor, family and lots of prayer, due to unforeseen medical issues I will no longer be able to fulfill my duties as Motor License Agent,” she wrote. “I have chosen to spend this time with my family and healing.”

She said her resignation would be effective April 26 or earlier. It contained a recommendation for her replacement.

However, the Tax Commission had already started the process of closing the agency, Ross said.

The Tax Commission shut down the agency’s computer system on April 12, Ross said.

The official closing date was April 26, which coincided with her resignation letter, said Ross.

Commissioners made the decision not to reopen the agency, according to Ross.

Short said she retired after having a heart attack.

She had no comment on the alleged financial discrepancies or the review by Hunter’s office.

Short had been a motor license agent since 2003, Ross said.

Tag agents began using a new system in 2015, Ross said. The system has an extensive audit trail, she reported.

“The commissioners are very focused on using these audit trails and protecting all state money,” Ross said. “With the current system, the auditors can see every click, every delete and every step the tag agencies take to do all transactions.

“We discovered the discrepancies with the Calera agency and requested the money be paid back in full,” according to Ross.

Ross said the Red River Tag Agency ranked seventh out of 282 agencies in total collections.

Calera had an average estimated population of 2,741 people based on the 2013-2017 American Community Survey. The town is just south of Durant and near the Texas border.

Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Hunter, said Hunter’s office is reviewing the information.

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Barbara Hoberock



Twitter: @bhoberock

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