Hamburger facing new misdemeanor
A second misdemeanor charge, this one “embezzlement of public money,” was added Monday to the legal problems Custer County Commissioner Kurt Hamburger is facing.
The new charge accuses Hamburger of paying Weldon Kissler of Weatherford a 30-percent “overcharge, surplusage, or undue profit” for goods Sissler allegedly purchased for the county on four occasions. The amount of money involved was not stated, and no separate affidavit was filed with the new charge which was added as a second count to misdemeanor case CM 18-384.
Instead, a “notice of intent to use evidence of other crimes” was filed against Hamburger by District Attorney Jason Hicks of Duncan, the D.A. for District 6 which is comprised of Caddo, Grady, Jefferson and Stephens counties. The case was assigned to Hicks after Custer County D.A. Angela Marsee recused herself and her staff, since they of course work regularly with Custer County commissioners on county matters at Arapaho.
Hamburger had been charged in September of 2018 with “personal interest of official in transaction,” also a misdemeanor, for allegedly making $300 off the 2017 purchase and resale of a brush hog owned by his district.
In that case he told authorities his company, H&H Salvage, paid $8,200 to buy the brush hog – also called a shredder – at a public auction. He has said he bought it for Logan County Commissioner Marven Goodman who had wanted to buy it directly from Custer County. Hamburger said he told Goodman it was already committed to a public auction and suggested he buy it there, but supposedly it was too late for Goodman to register his district as a bidder. Hamburger then agreed for his company – H&H Salvage – to buy it for him and let Logan County reimburse H&H.
But instead of the $8,200, Goodman allegedly asked him to charge Logan County $8,500 which was done. Hamburger told authorities he put the extra $300 into his district’s petty cash fund, but the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it could find nothing on record indicating that actually happened.
There was nothing in the papers filed Monday to indicate the new charge of embezzlement had anything to do with that transaction.
The alleged embezzlement supposedly took place between Jan. 25, 2016, and April 5, 2016, more than a year before the transaction listed in the first misdemeanor count. However, the notice of intent to use evidence of other crimes goes all the way back to 2013. It said Melissa Parker, who became Custer County clerk at the beginning of 2017, would testify that another Hamburger company – Hamburger Farms Inc. – purchased a 1977 International dump truck that was for sale at auction in March of 2013. It said this was in violation of Oklahoma Statute 344 (or 341) and added:
“This evidence proves a common scheme and plan, the absence of mistake, as well as the intent on the part of the defendant to involve himself in a county transaction.
“Therefore this evidence is admissible for the purpose of proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident, in conformity with Burks vs. State. . . .”
It was filed by Andrew Benedict, assistant district attorney for Caddo County, who works for Hicks.
Trevor Ridgeway, a former Weatherford policeman, was the OSBI investigator on both of the counts against Hamburger. There are now 26 witnesses listed in the two counts, including – besides Ms. Parker – Custer County Sheriff Kenneth Tidwell.