A member of the OU Board of Regents has been accused of embezzling several million dollars from an Oklahoma manufacturing company, according to court records filed in Rogers County on Nov. 25.
On Nov. 1, current OU Regent Phil Albert filed a lawsuit against Pelco Structural, a steel pole manufacturing business he co-founded in 2005, claiming wrongful termination. In a countersuit filed by Pelco Structural on Nov. 25, the company denied the allegations and claimed that Albert and a company accountant embezzled $7.4 million from the company from 2010 to 2019. The countersuit was first reported by NewsOn6.
The Tulsa World reported that Albert left the company in April 2019 and “declined to comment on his departure” at the time.
The Pelco lawsuit claims that Albert “paid himself a salary greater than that authorized by his employment agreement,” as well as receiving unauthorized payments labeled as “office regular,” “bonus” and “reimbursements.”
The lawsuit also alleges Albert used company credit cards to purchase goods and services and make “charitable contributions that were personal to Albert and provided no benefit to (Pelco) Structural.”
Albert’s attorney, Paul DeMuro, released a statement on the countersuit Nov. 26.
“Mr. Albert was shocked and dismayed when, in April of this year, (Pelco Structural co-founder) Phil Parduhn’s sons abruptly forced him out of the company. We are now engaged in a business divorce,” the statement read. “Like in many divorces, emotions run high, and inflammatory allegations are made. We intend to pursue vigorously Mr. Albert’s claims, and separate the wheat from the chaff on the claims against him.”
The OU Board of Regents released an email statement Tuesday refraining from comment on the allegations.
"Since this is a personal matter for Regent Albert, it is inappropriate for us to comment on the lawsuit. That said, (Albert) is an excellent Regent and we expect him to continue to serve well into the future," the statement read.
The board will meet Dec. 2 for a series of special meetings and its regular meeting.
This story was updated at 5:49 p.m. Nov. 26 to include the statement from the OU Board of Regents.