Posted: Feb 09, 2024 9:21 AMUpdated: Feb 09, 2024 9:21 AM

Oklahoma Grand Jury Indicts Barbecue Restaurant Owner Over Deal With State Parks Agency

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Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The owner of an Oklahoma barbecue company that landed a sweetheart deal to build restaurants at several state parks was indicted Thursday on conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with the deal.

Ronald Brent Swadley and two other men who worked for Swadley's Bar-B-Q, former Vice President Curtis Breuklander and current executive Timothy Hooper, were each charged with one felony count of conspiracy to defruad the state and five felony counts of presenting false claims.

Prosecutors allege the company presented inflated and fraudulent invoices to the Tourism Department, which had signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the restaurant company to renovate and rebrand restaurants at several state parks.

“The indictments issued today contain serious charges and will be prosecuted by my office on behalf of the People of Oklahoma,” Attorney General Gentner Drummond said in a statement.

The agency announced in April 2022 that it was terminating the deal after the allegations first surfaced, and its embattled executive director, Jerry Winchester, resigned several days later.

Mack Martin, an attorney for Swadley, said his client denies wrongdoing.

“We are going to rely on 12 people to make the right decision,” Martin said in a statement. “Swadley's stepped up to the plate for Oklahoma when no one else in the state would.”

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