MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 1, 2013

Evidence questions extend hearing

Water park embezzlement suspect to return to court in April

— A woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from River Country Water Park will find out in April whether she’ll be bound over for trial.

Felicia Pruitt, 36, appeared in court Friday, but difficulties admitting documents into evidence led to a continuance of her preliminary hearing.

Pruitt was charged in August with allegedly embezzling $53,265.76 from the park between June 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2011. She is accused of falsifying reports by showing a smaller amount to be deposited than what was accurate, creating false sales reports and signing their employees’ names to some reports.

Pruitt, who lives in California, her attorney said, will return to court at 9 a.m. April 18 and 19. Pruitt posted $10,000 bond in August after turning herself in.

Assistant Muskogee County District Attorney Dan Medlock questioned former Muskogee Police Officer Pedro Zardeneta on Friday. Zardeneta investigated the alleged embezzlement because he previously worked for the water park.

Zardeneta said he watched hundreds of hours of surveillance tape during the investigation and looked over dozens of financial documents turned in to the city treasurer’s office by Pruitt, who was the park’s aquatic’s supervisor. Zardeneta said he had been advised that up to $130,000 may have been embezzled from the park, but he felt that he could only prove a figure closer to $60,000.

Pruitt’s attorney, Rob V. Henson of Tulsa, objected to many of Zardeneta’s statements regarding those documents, saying Zardeneta lacked the financial or accounting background to verify the authenticity of the documents.

After a brief recess, Medlock was able to get City Treasurer Jean Kingston to testify. However, date discrepancies on some of the copied documents forced another delay.

Kingston said the park’s computer would sometimes print the wrong date on receipts given to the treasurer’s office — some documents allegedly filed in August would display July dates.

During the second delay, a box containing the original receipts and paperwork was brought to the courthouse from the police station’s evidence room.

At that time, both sides agreed to a continuance for the hearing.  

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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