OKLAHOMA CITY — A Comanche County businesswoman was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison for a count of bribery.
On Friday, Candy Hanza, 50, of Lawton, received her sentence from U.S. Western District Court of Oklahoma Patrick R. Ryrick. She also will have two years of supervised release upon completion of her sentence.
A hearing will be scheduled for restitution and forfeiture before Hanza self-reports to a designated facility, according to the sentencing order.
Hanza pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and had 11 other charges of federal public corruption allegations dismissed on July 28, 2023. As part of the plea deal, the other charges of wire fraud and money laundering were dismissed at sentencing.
Hanza joins former Fort Sill Army training manager Alfred Palma, 64, of Duncan, who pleaded guilty to counts relating to the indictment, filed by a federal grand jury on May 13, 2023. He entered his plea to a public corruption charge in mid-June 2023, records indicate. He also had been charged with accepting a bribe as a public official.
Palma, a former Army employee and public official, was the manager of the Institutional Training Directed Lodging and Meals (“ITDLM”) program at Fort Sill, through which he booked hotel rooms for soldiers who attended on-post trainings. According to the indictment, Hanza, then the general manager of Comfort Suites in Lawton, paid Palma to direct soldiers to the hotel.
Hanza has told The Constitution she pleaded guilty in an effort to shield her employees as well as to expose the pressure there is to hold onto contracts. She said Palma pressured her to do “favors” during the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, training soldiers offered the majority of business for the hotel. This is where, she said, Palma knew the desperation of hotels for business.
With his plea, Palma admitted to receiving cash and checks totaling $103,200 from Hanza in return for favoring Comfort Suites, where Hanza was a general manager, when he booked soldiers for off-post trainings. Palma also admitted he used the cash to purchase money orders from Walmart in $1,000 increments, which he then deposited, along with the checks Hanza gave him, into his personal checking account.
Since the indictment, Hanza has stepped down from her post with the Medicine Park Town Board. She has continued to work with her businesses and hasn’t been with Comfort Suites since 2021.
Palma is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Thursday, records indicate.