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'Follow the money': Gov. Stitt responds to three men indicted in Swadley's case

'Follow the money': Gov. Stitt responds to three men indicted in Swadley's case

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Three men have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the state in connection to the Swadley’s Bar-B-Q contract with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Ronald Swadley, Curtis Breuklander and Timothy Hooper have been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the state and five felony counts of presenting false or fraudulent claims against the state.

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

The indictments come after the restaurant’s attorney filed a motion on Monday against the Oklahoma Department of Tourism.

The summary judgment filing claims that the evidence proves the state owes Swadley’s money on four key points:

  1. Tourism actually owes Swadley’s FBK approximately $1,176,541.00 in billed and unpaid invoices, plus $1,200,000.00 in unpaid, contractually required “operational loss” reimbursement;
  2. As a result of Tourism’s improper cancelation of the agreements, Swadley’s FBK is entitled to early contractual cancelation penalties of approximately $163,123.00;
  3. Tourism owes Swadley’s FBK $53,182.86 for catering services delivered and food consumed without any complaint; and
  4. Swadley’s FBK delivered to Tourism a net contributory value of $11,836,083 more than what Tourism has paid to Swadley’s FBK.

Court records indicate because of the COVID-19 pandemic struck as Swadley's signed a contract with the Oklahoma State Tourism and Recreation Department, it set the restaurant back 14-16 months for new barbecue smokers.

An exhibit in court documents reveal text messages between Swadley and the former Tourism Department Director, Jerry Winchester. One text from Swadley said, "This is uncharted territory for our company growing at this pace. Not sure it's healthy and smart."

According to an affidavit, the Foggy Bottom Kitchen found its Lake Murray location had been mistakenly billed twice. When the Tourism Department was asked about credits, the restaurant was allegedly told not to worry about it because it'd be figured out once the inventory audit process was finished.

"If there's bad state employees, they need to be prosecuted. You're innocent until proven guilty. And this will all play out over the next few months," said Governor Kevin Stitt in a Friday morning press conference.

The Governor said he found out about the indictments when the public did Thursday afternoon.

"You're going to have disputes sometimes with vendors. And we want to hold everybody accountable," stated Gov. Stitt. "What I learned in school is you follow the money and let's follow the money and let's see if there's bad actors and if they need to be prosecuted."

News 4 asked the Governor if his office ever received evidence of wrongdoing from Swadley's prior to the state terminating its contract.

He said his office wasn't really involved in the case.

"It's my understanding that tourism, when they thought there was some overbilling, that they withheld payments. That's the extent of the knowledge I have on that. I don't think the state is going to be hurt," added Gov. Stitt."The state will protect its interest against any vendor."

We absolutely deny any wrongdoing. We will rely on 12 people to make the right decision. Swadley’s stepped up to the plate for Oklahoma when no one else in the state would.

Mack Martin, Attorney for Brent Swadley

This is sadly a legal dispute that keeps escalating. The question remains why the State will not answer the 12 questions we submitted to them. Please remember, there are always two sides to every story – especially a story as politicized as this.  As the Attorney General’s Office stated: 'Every individual indicted is presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.' We hope someday all the political endgames will cease in this devastating ordeal to my family and business.

We sincerely ask for your prayers in this David vs Goliath battle and thank you for continuing to show your support.

Swadley's family statement

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