A former Thayer resident has been sentenced and ordered to pay restitution after pleading guilty to three counts of embezzlement from the trust fund of her nieces and nephew. The three were awarded $1 million in a lawsuit after the 2007 death of their mother in a car accident.
An Elk City News story by Editor Don Munsch outlined the details of the case, filed in Buckham County, Okla.
Sonya Rane Lasater, 52, Elk City, Okla., has been ordered to pay $393,571.39 in restitution. She served 20 days in jail and was directed to pay $32,000 within 10 days of her release and $2,100 a month beginning in August, with a balloon payment at the end of the payoff. She has also been ordered to pay court costs.
Lasater was also handed a 10 year suspended sentence, minus the 20 days time served, on each of the three charges of embezzlement. If executed, counts one and two are to run consecutively and count three will run concurrently with count two.
The children’s mother, Laura Whittingham, 35 in December 2007 and working as a transport guard for the Howell County Sheriff’s Department, died when the patrol car she was riding in lost control on an icy highway in Texas County and collided with another car.
Whittingham was on the way back to Howell County while transporting a prisoner from Fulton Correctional Center. The prisoner, Lisa Oliver, 36, of Falcon, also died.
Whittingham’s parents, Kenny and Doris Brown of Thayer, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state and the Howell County Sheriff’s Department and were awarded $1 million, which was put in a trust fund for the children.
The children moved to Elk City with their father, Greg Alford, who was convicted in 2013 of aggravated possession of child pornography. Lasater, Alford’s sister, was awarded guardianship and access to the children’s trust fund when Alford was sent to prison on the conviction.
Lasater reportedly admitted to withdrawing $330,000 of the trust money by writing checks to herself or making cash withdrawals and putting them in her own bank account, allegedly using a large amount of the money to gamble with, according to the Elk City News.
Lasater also stated she had withdrawn cash from the account to buy vehicles for the children, but didn’t use the money for that purpose.
The children are in their early 20s now and doing well despite the adversity they have faced since their mother’s death, said Doris Brown, adding they are hard workers and getting an education.