AFSCME President in Oklahoma City Arrested for Embezzlement

afscme-logoWilliam Bryles spent money on people he liked. Unfortunately, the source of the funds appeared to be his own union. On August 17, Bryles, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2406, was arrested for embezzling more than $15,000 from the Oklahoma City public employees union. Various witnesses have claimed he used union accounts to cover personal expenses ranging from basketball tournaments to flowers for his wife. “Bryles has engaged in a pattern of abuse of his powers as president of AFSCME Local 2406 and has used union funds for his own profit,” reported Oklahoma City police detective Clint Dellinger to a local judge in requesting the arrest warrant.

This case grew out of an unrelated and more disturbing one. According to court records, Bryles, now 53, a resident of Oklahoma City, had been investigated by local police starting last September in response to an allegation by a former union secretary that he had drugged and raped her back in 2005. The woman contacted police after receiving counseling and informing her family of the incident. That November (2015), she filed for a protective custody order. This wasn’t Bryles’ first encounter with the law regarding sex offenses. He had been accused of rape in 1999, 2013 and 2015. In none of these cases was he charged, though an assistant district attorney recently stated that he would reopen them pending additional information. According to federal records, Bryles also has filed for bankruptcy several times, most recently in 2010.

William Bryles, in other words, was bad news. And the news didn’t get any better in the course of the embezzlement allegation. In an affidavit, Detective Dellinger stated: “During the course of the investigation, several witnesses independently alleged Bryles was embezzling money from the union. Two witnesses alleged Bryles used the union’s Lowe’s credit card to purchase a refrigerator for his home. In addition, witnesses said that Bryles would cash checks by forging the signature of the former vice president, Jimmy Tabb.” Dellinger added: “Witnesses said they started hiding the checkbook from Bryles.  He resorted to cash withdrawals from the union account. Bank records appear to confirm allegations of embezzlement by Bryles. There are multiple checks by Bryles that appear to have a different signature than Tabb’s signature card.”

Sports promotion appeared to be the motive for much of the pilferage. Court records show that Bryles used $7,819.37 in local funds to pay for fees, flyers and insurance related to basketball teams and tournaments he sponsored. In addition, he made $2,265.75 in unauthorized purchases of food and drink and withdrew $2,157 worth of unauthorized cashier’s checks for legal bills, personal cell phone charges, flowers for his wife and other purposes. And to top it off, he allegedly used his union debit card to make $2,989.93 worth of withdrawals, hotel rooms, and convenience store purchases. All this added up to slightly over $15,000. As the evidence mounted that Bryles had been dipping his hand in the till, a local judge issued an arrest warrant for him on seven embezzlement charges, four of them felonies and the other three misdemeanors. “My lawyer has told me not to say anything,” said Bryles in April when the police probe began. That strategy now may need an adjustment.