Ex-worker indicted on Oklahoma trucker fee charges

| 8/12/2002

Another former state employee has been accused of fraud in the Oklahoma Tax Commission investigation. Up to 10 others associated with the agency are still under suspicion, according to the Oklahoman.

Herbert Coles Jr., a fired Tax Commission data encoder, pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony charges. Coles is accused of conspiring with Jason Andrew Frias, a trucking company agent, to withhold $45,978 in trucker fees from the state.

A grand jury handed out the indictment Tuesday - the third since the probe of the agency began last year. Previously charged were two ex-Tax Commission auditors, a Tax Commission supervisor, a former trucking company agent and the former agent's boss.

In the latest indictment, grand jurors alleged Coles and Frias began their scheme in April 2001. Grand jurors found evidence Coles or Frias collected payments from out-of-state truckers 29 times but kept all the money, the newspaper reported. Grand jurors allege the men stole cab cards from the agency to send to the truckers.

Prosecutors allege Coles began moonlighting as a trucking agent while still at the Tax Commission. He and Fries at first teamed up to run a company called Oklahoma Truck Tags for Le$$, according to the newspaper. Later, Coles started M&H Expediting or E&H Service. The two allegedly pocketed fees ranging from $378 to $5,706.

Coles was fired from the Tax Commission on May 21 after he stopped going to work. Frias is set to surrender Monday, the newspaper reported. Frias currently is on probation on two unrelated charges. The maximum punishment on the conspiracy to defraud the state charge is 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.