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Three men accused of defrauding Oklahoma by inflating invoices

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Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - Three men are accused of inflating invoices submitted while running a restaurant at Oklahoma's state parks.

A multi-county grand jury indicted Ronald Brent Swadley, Curtis Ray Breuklander and Timothy Raymond Hooper with one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the state and five felony counts of presenting false or fraudulent claims against the state, according to Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

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The three men were operating Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen through a contract with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, according to a news release from Drummond's office. The men would maintain a set of invoices the company paid for items such as smokers. A second set of invoices with inflated amounts would be submitted to the state, according to the indictment.

Swadley's restaurants were open from October 2019 until 2022, when questions arose about the contract. An audit by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency discovered the amount of money spent by OTRD on food and beverage shot up to $5.97 million in fiscal year 2021.

The audit found multiple instances where items purchased by the restaurant chain were expensed at far higher than what they should have cost. In one example, a cheese melter was expensed for over $11,000. The highest price for a cheese melter that auditors could find from that same manufacturer was around $5,500.

Mike Jackson, executive director of the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, told lawmakers in May 2022 that more than $12 million in taxpayers' funds could have been saved if controls were in place.

The state sued Swadley's in a separate civil action in April 2022. Earlier this week, Swadley's said in a filing that the state owes them $2 million, according to KOCO.