Lawton city employees charged with felony embezzlement

The superintendent of the Lawton's waste division was charged Thursday with embezzling more than $13,000.

Investigators say Jayson Powell, and another city employee, sold scrap metal belonging to the city and pocketed the money. The scam reportedly started last March when Powell and Justin Hill began using city trucks to take the metal to a local business called ‘OK Scrap Metal.' The investigation revealed that the company paid for the metal by issuing checks directly to him, in his name, but that money was never deposited in the city's recycling fund.

Lawton officials found out after an anonymous call to the city manager's office said that city employees were depositing scrap metal belonging to the city and making a profit.

The city manager's office reported it to police in early December when they found out that it was a criminal issue. Although the police investigation began in December, court records report Powell and Hill had been selling metal that belonged to the city for scrap since March 21, 2014.

Police say Jayson Powell made 16 trips and Justin Hill made 14 trips to OK Scrap Metal, filling a city grappler truck with scrap metal including old city dumpsters and railroad tracks. While the court filing states Powell is accused of embezzling more than $13,000, the affidavit only provided details of two specific events that were corroborated by other city workers.

On November 24, police say Powell made two trips to OK Scrap Metal and received two checks totaling more than $3,000. He was accompanied by a supervisor in the solid waste division on one of those trips. The other incident occurred on December 3 when a supervisor in the city streets division took pictures of Powell and Hill loading railroad tracks into the back of a city truck, which were later taken to the scrap yard.

The company says the two split the more than $1,300 they received for the scrap metal that day. The city has a recycling revenue fund which the embezzled money should have been placed into, but city records say no deposits have been made into that fund since September 2013.

Both Powell and Hill appeared before a judge Thursday after arrest warrants were issued Wednesday. They have been charged with felony embezzlement. Powell was released on a $2,000 bond. Hill posted a $1,000 bond.

If found guilty, the two could each face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 and payment of restitution.

The city would not release a comment on the case at this time. Powell and hill are set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing in March.