Former State Senator Rick Brinkley is headed to prison after admitting a gambling addiction sent his life spinning out of control.
Brinkley confessed to embezzling $1.8 million from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa. He says he did it all to feed his gambling addiction, and now he wants to make sure others learn from his mistakes.
Brinkley says he’s spent the past 72 hours responding to supportive Facebook posts about his confession of addiction to gambling.
“The reality is, that I’m an addict. And I’m an addict for a variety of reasons, but they know that there is at least another 150,000 people just like me in the state of Oklahoma who deals with this every single day,” says Brinkley.
Since then, the social media support has poured in. The former senator says the most important messages came from people who asked for help with their own gambling addiction.
Dr. Bill Crowell, Associate Minister at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, says “What happens for people is, just as someone may take, let’s say cocaine, and gets a huge rush off of that hit. It can be almost the same thing when someone wins big. Or they may even win little, but it’s so exciting for them.”
Brinkley’s defense argued prison was not a proper punishment for someone with a gambling addiction. U.S. Attorney Danny Williams disagreed.
“There may not be programs available for him, but I believe that prison sentence was appropriate. I hope it sends a message to the public that our public officials will be held accountable for illegal acts," said Williams.
Brinkley says he will serve his time and continue trying to help others who have the same problem.
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