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Former Oak Ridge city secretary facing theft charge

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:31 PM CDT
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OAK RIDGE, Texas (KXII) - A former city secretary for the city of Oak Ridge is facing theft charges between $150 thousand and $300 thousand.

The Cooke County District Attorney’s Office says Darlene Nelson is accused of taking money from the city.

Michelle Wagner has been living in Oak Ridge for nearly four years. She says she and Nelson were friends.

“It’s mind blowing to me,” Wagner said. “I’ve known her the whole time that I’ve lived here and she’s always been the sweetest woman and this is just not something I would have pictured her doing.”

Wagner said the news came as a “blow” because “Oak Ridge has never really had the best reputation and I hope this doesn’t cause us to take a step backwards.”

Lorraine Dial has lived in Oak Ridge for nearly seven years. She says that money could have made a difference for the city.

“Everybody out here works their butts off for what they have,” Dial said. “It’s not a rich community but it’s a nice, quiet community. We don’t want to know that anybody’s stealing from us that’s for sure.”

Dial said that money could have gone to fixing the city’s roads, and making it a better place to live.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this, I thought they got rid of all the riff-raff,” Dial said. “You can’t even get through some of the areas because there’s so many pot holes, floods in places. We could use that money for better things than somebody stealing from us.”

News 12 reported in 2018 that the city of Oak Ridge was fined $100 thousand by the state of Texas that year. After an investigation revealed someone working for the city was voiding traffic tickets and pocketing the money violators paid.

Nelson, serving as a city judge at the time, resigned and agreed to never serve in that capacity again.

She was not charged with anything in 2018.

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