LAHOMA, Okla. — The former mayor of Lahoma has been charged with a felony count of conspiracy against the state alleging she and a co-conspirator defrauded the town of her utility payments.
Theresa Anne Sharp was charged Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Garfield County District Court and faces up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Online court records show a warrant for her arrest was issued Monday, with bond set at $2,500.
According to an affidavit filed in the case by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Lynda Stevens, a request was made Sept. 6, 2018, by District Attorney Mike Fields to investigate allegations of embezzlement of public funds from the town of Lahoma.
It was alleged the former mayor, Sharp, directed an outstanding balance on her water, sewer and trash account be removed, and Sharp never paid the balance, according to the affidavit. It was also alleged the embezzlement occurred on two occasions over a period of three years totaling $1,759.75.
Stevens found between February 2016 and August 2018 Sharp had an open and active utility account with the town of Lahoma, according to the affidavit. On and before the start of February 2016 through mid-October 2017, Sharp was mayor of Lahoma.
At the start of February 2016, Sharp's utility account had a past due balance of $438. By the end of December 2016, Sharp's account accrued a balance of $1,113.50, according to the affidavit. From February 2016 to the end of December 2016, Sharp made no payments to the balance of her account.
The town of Lahoma's utility department computer program showed on Jan. 2, 2017, two entries of "credit" were made to Sharp's account, according to the affidavit. The first entry was for $153.75 and was detailed as a credit for a water leak. The second entry was for $959.75 and was detailed as an "overcharge." Both credits totaled $1,113.50, the amount Sharp was past due at the end of December 2016.
The town of Lahoma's utility department computer program showed from Jan. 3, 2017, to Oct. 1, 2017, Sharp's account accrued a balance of $699.75, according to the affidavit. From Jan. 3, 2017, to the end of September 2017, Sharp made no payments toward her account.
On Oct. 1, 2017, the town of Lahoma's utility department computer program showed a credit was posted to Sharp's account for $800 and was detailed as a "payment," according to the affidavit. When it posted, the payment brought Sharp's account to a credit of $100.25.
Stevens obtained deposit slip records for Lahoma's utility department ban account, used to deposit customer utility payments, according to the affidavit. The slips for October 2017 showed no cash or check payments in the amount of $800. Other than the town of Lahoma's utility department computer program, no record of receipt for payment could be found to reveal the form of payment, such as cash or check, or which employee of the town of Lahoma processed Sharp's payment.
Stevens interviewed Sharp Sept. 11, 2018, at her residence in Lahoma, according to the affidavit. Sharp said it was often her utility account went unpaid and for long periods at a time.
Sharp said the $153.75 credit posted on Jan. 2, 2017, was a credit she received due to a water leak at her house that went undetected for two months, specifically November and December of 2016, according to the affidavit. Sharp was unable to explain the "overcharge" posted on Jan. 2, 2017, and why it was in the amount of $959.75.
The utility services charged each month beginning in February 2016 through the end of December 2016 totaled $959.75, according to the affidavit.
Sharp said she was aware of the $800 credit to her account on Oct. 1, 2017, detailed as a payment, according to the affidavit. Sharp said a former Lahoma utility secretary, Shannon Edmonds, altered her account to make it appear she made an $800 payment to her utility account.
Sharp told Stevens she could not recall whether she approached Edmonds or Edmonds approached her to see if there was something that could be done to make Sharp's account not look so bad, according to the affidavit. Sharp also could not remember if it was her or Edmonds' idea to change the account and do away with Sharp's delinquent account balance.
"Sharp was unsure exactly how delinquent her utility account was just prior to Edmonds altering Sharp's account balance, but she thought it was several hundred dollars past due," Stevens wrote in the affidavit. "Sharp agreed the changes Edmonds made to her utility account benefited Sharp and not Edmonds."
Sharp said she believed she owed the town of Lahoma money for past utility services she received that went unpaid, but Sharp said she did not feel she owed the entire amount of $1,759.75, according to the affidavit. Sharp said she believed she made some cash payments to Edmonds "here and there" to be applied to her balance.
Sharp said she never received any receipts to prove she made the payments and claimed Edmonds put her off every time she asked for a receipt, according to the affidavit. Sharp denied ever personally logging into the town of Lahoma utility department's computer program for the purpose of making changes of any kind to her delinquent balance.
Around the October 2017 time frame, a new town board for Lahoma was about to commence, according to the affidavit. One witness reported Sharp expressed concerns about the new board finding out about her past due utility account, specifically about how delinquent she was on her account.
In 2015, Sharp's husband was named as one of three men participating in a Ku Klux Klan Halloween incident when a photo circulated on Facebook with KKK robes, a cross and a bonfire drew national attention.
The identities of three men participating in a Ku Klux Klan Halloween incident with the husband of Lahoma’s mayor have been released.