Former Oklahoma truck company agent admits to tag fraud

| Wednesday, June 19, 2002

A former trucking company agent admitted June 17 that he and an Oklahoma Tax Commission employee cheated the state out of $100,000 in truck tag fees, then split the money, according to a story in The Oklahoman.

Ronnie E. Cantwell Jr. testified during a bail hearing for Billy Bruce Baber, a former Tax Commission auditor. Baber is accused in a grand jury indictment of making a death threat to try to prevent Cantwell from turning over incriminating documents or testifying about their "criminal activity," the newspaper reported.

The state grand jury is investigating charges of bribery at the Tax Commission. At issue is whether trucking agents paid Tax Commission employees to falsify documents so truckers could get cheaper tags.

Cantwell claimed the trucking company paid $176,000 for its tags but Baber reworked the estimated mileage on the bill so only $76,000 went to the Tax Commission. Cantwell said the remaining $100,000 was divided four ways among himself, Baber, boss Dan Kiplinger and Tax Commission employee Brian Brantley.

Baber resigned earlier this month after he came under suspicion. Brantley resigned last week after refusing to answer the grand jury's questions.

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