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Former drilling company controller charged with plan to embezzle $6M

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 5:20 p.m.

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a former controller of an Indiana County drilling company with conspiring to embezzle more than $6 million from the company over the past eight years.

Cheryl Diane Brooks conspired with the former chief operating officer of Falcon Drilling Co. LLC of Rayne Township, according to the information filed in court.

Federal prosecutors typically file charges through an information instead of seeking an indictment from a grand jury when the person they're charging has agreed to cooperate.

There was no phone listing for Brooks. Her lawyer, Patrick Nightingale, couldn't be reached for comment.

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment and refused to provide Brooks' age and address.

State police in February charged former Chief Operating Officer Larry D. Winckler, 52, of White in Indiana County with 58 counts of theft and receiving stolen property but withdrew the charges when federal prosecutors took over the case.

Winckler has not been indicted on federal charges. His attorney, Martin Dietz, declined comment.

The information says the pair wrote themselves company checks and, in some cases, used fake invoices from companies owned by a third conspirator, identified only as “D.P.,” to cover their tracks.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, prosecutors charged Brooks with three counts of mail fraud for allegedly sending false information to the company's auditors and three counts of filing false tax returns for allegedly under-reporting income by a total of $455,000 for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Falcon Drilling President Dan Donahue said the privately held company thanks “the authorities and our employees for all their hard work in handling a very difficult situation that has affected the entire Falcon family.”

The state police affidavit for Winckler's arrest said that Brooks went to the Indiana County District Attorney's Office and confessed to the scheme when she suspected another employee was gathering evidence against them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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