Pirrong Ordered To Stand Trial In Health Department Probe
A former deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health was ordered to stand trial on four counts of obtaining money by false pretenses following a preliminary hearing in Oklahoma County District Court Friday.
Oklahoma County Special District Judge Charles Humble found that there is sufficient evidence to try Roger Pirrong, 67, of Oklahoma City, on the felony counts. Pirrong was indicted by the state’s multicounty grand jury May 8, and is accused of accepting four years of department salary -- a total of more than $350,000 -- even though he was not doing his job.
He remains free on $10,000 bond, and is scheduled to appear Aug. 21 before Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Bragg for a pretrial hearing.
Pirrong is one of seven former health department employees indicted by the multicounty grand jury in a continuing corruption probe. The multicounty grand jury, administered by Attorney General Drew Edmondson, will reconvene Tuesday.
Pirrong is accused of accepting a state salary in 1995 through 1998 while falsely "representing that he was providing the services of a full-time Oklahoma State Department of Health employee."
Pirrong went to work for the department in March 1965 as a supervisor and registrar of vital statistics. He became deputy commissioner in 1981. By 1994, Pirrong administered seven divisions at the department.
Due to health problems he rarely showed up at work from 1995-1998, prosecutors allege. He took full-time annual and sick leave beginning in December 1998, and shared leave beginning in the fall of 1999 through his retirement in April 2000.
During that time, Pirrong’s duties significantly decreased because of repeated absence. In June 1996 he lost two of the divisions assigned to him, and by 1998 he had only three divisions under his control. The reorganization caused Pirrong’s duties to fall on the shoulders of employees at all levels.
Others filled out time sheets for him and he continued to accept his salary, which totaled $352,084.12 from 1995-1998, an average of $88,021.03 per year.
Each count against Pirrong carries up to 10 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.