Just minutes after they were given the case to deliberate Friday, a Carter County jury returned a guilty verdict against former Gene Autry Mayor Katherine McQuistion. The one time leader of the community was charged with pilfering cash from the city’s purses. Along with the swift conviction also came the jury’s recommendation McQuistion serve the maximum penalty —10 years in a state prison and pay a  $10,000 fine.
Commenting on the verdict District Attorney Craig Ladd said, “I am very pleased with the jury’s verdict and on behalf of the State of Oklahoma and the Town of Gene Autry, I want to thank them for their service. Carter County Deputy James VanZant should also be commended for his diligent work on the case and I also want to express my appreciation to the folks at First National Bank for their level of flexibility and accommodation when coordinating with my office for trial preparation and the actual trial.”
Asked for his assessment on the rapid return of the verdict Ladd said, “It is worth mentioning that the jury was out for less than 45 minutes and maxed her out on punishment. Hopefully this will send a message to others who choose to embezzle that it carries a stiff punishment.”
Associate District Judge Thomas Baldwin ordered McQuistion immediately remanded to the custody of the Carter County Sheriff pending formal sentencing. Interim Sheriff John Ryan confirmed about 1:30 p.m. Friday the former major was booked into the Carter County Detention Center to await sentencing set for Sept. 8.
McQuistion had been free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond since Nov. 25 when she made her first court appearance on the embezzlement charge in Carter County District Court. Ladd filed the charge accusing the former mayor of filching an estimated $132,800 from the city’s bank accounts by “improperly  appropriating” funds through unauthorized cash withdrawals between January 2014, and January, 2015. The charge was based on a joint investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
McQuistion resigned her post in February shortly after the inquiry was launched into what was described as “financial irregularities in the town’s finances.”