Former Office Manager Sentenced for Swindling Broken Arrow Business of $2.7 Million

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A former office manager who embezzled more the $2.7 million from her former employer, all after facing unrelated charges in Tulsa County for similar crimes, was sentenced in federal court, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan sentenced Melissa Raye Dihel, 50, of Okmulgee, to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to pay $2,722,332.63 in restitution to her former employer and $775,971 in restitution to the IRS.

Dihel began stealing from her employer less than two years after pleading guilty to embezzling from another business, for which she received a deferred sentence on Dec. 16, 2009, in Tulsa County District Court.

“Melissa Dihel violated the trust of small business owners and robbed them for years,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Dihel’s string of lies, criminal acts, and excuses have finally caught up with her, resulting in almost four years of prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will hold white collar criminals responsible for the financial harm they cause to local businesses.”

“Ms. Dihel’s shameless actions to embezzle money, for a second time, from her employer shows her lack of remorse for her crimes and complete disregard for her employer and taxpayers in general. This sentencing shows that the cooperation between our law enforcement partners continues to catch these criminals and hold them accountable for their actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher J. Altemus Jr., Dallas Field Office.

Dihel pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion on July 21, 2021, after she brazenly embezzled more than $2.7 million from her employer from 2011 until May 2019. Dihel took advantage of her trusted position as an office manager at the business and forged the president’s signature on approximately 334 checks for her own benefit and to the detriment of the company. She made some checks payable to herself, some to her boyfriend and a family member, and some to personal credit card companies to pay her monthly credit card bills. Her boyfriend and family member were unaware of her scheme. Dihel further manipulated accounting entries in her employer’s books and records to cover her tracks. Dihel stated in her plea agreement that she spent most of the money on gambling. 

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Additionally, Dihel did not report the illegal income to the IRS. Specifically, she stated that she did not report $820,148 in illegal income for tax year 2018 and that she failed to pay taxes in the amount of $279,273 for that year.

Dihel will self-surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility on Dec. 15, 2021.

IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Broken Arrow Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David D. Whipple and Kevin C. Leitch prosecuted the case.


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