Former Oklahoma City attorney admits charges following investigation.
United States Attorney Danny C. Williams, Sr., announced that John Merritt, 74, a former Oklahoma City attorney, entered guilty pleas to numerous fraud related offenses in Oklahoma City before Federal District Judge J. Thomas Marten, Wichita, Kansas. According to documents filed in the three separate cases, Merritt had devised fraud schemes that resulted in losses totaling more than $3 million.
Williams, Sr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, was appointed by the Office of the Deputy Attorney General following the recusal of the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Oklahoma to investigate and prosecute any offenses that Merritt is believed to have committed. Merritt was indicted on April 17, 2012, in a twelve count indictment charging he used forged federal and state court orders to steal over $450,000 of settlement funds of lawsuits involving car accidents from children who were his clients. Merritt pled guilty to those crimes in July and is awaiting sentencing.
The fraud charges to which Merritt pled guilty yesterday include allegations that:(1) in 2007, Merritt defrauded Advocate Capital, Inc., of Nashville, Tennessee, using false financial statements and income tax returns to fraudulently obtain a line of credit totaling more than $1,750,000;(2) from 2007 through 2011, Merritt defrauded Quail Creek Bank of Oklahoma City, by providing false financial statements and income tax returns to obtain a line of credit totaling $800,000; and (3) in 2011, Merritt forged the signature of another attorney on two settlement checks totaling $500,000 which he deposited into a Quail Creek Bank account and thereafter withdrew the fraudulently obtained funds.
Sentencing is expected to be set in May 2013.
The charges result from a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The prosecutions of the cases are being handled by Special Attorneys Charles M. McLoughlin and Kevin C. Leitch.