- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - Campbell County Sheriff Bill Pownall announced his resignation Wednesday. The move comes in the midst of a state investigation into an allegation that he tried to suppress his son’s arrest on a drunken-driving charge.

The Gillette News-Record reported (https://bit.ly/1F5jKpA ) that Pownall wrote to Campbell County commissioners on Wednesday announcing he’s resigning effective Dec. 1.

Gov. Matt Mead had announced Nov. 9 that he had directed the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to undertake removal proceedings against Pownall. Mead made the announcement after reviewing a report on Pownall from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

The Campbell County Commission had forwarded the division’s report to Mead for action. The division had investigated an allegation that Pownall pressured deputies to drop a drunken-driving charge against his 23-year-old son, Seth Pownall, in August and change it to a charge of being a pedestrian under the influence. County prosecutors have refiled the DUI charge.

The Division of Criminal Investigation’s report itself has not been made public.

The Attorney General’s Office hasn’t yet filed court papers seeking Pownall’s removal. His announcement means that the state won’t seek to remove him from office.

Pownall already was set to leave office at the end of December when his third term expires. He was elected this month to a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Mead said a special prosecutor could be appointed to consider whether to pursue potential criminal violations. There has been no public action on any such appointment.

Pownall’s resignation letter makes no mention of the investigation or pending removal proceedings. Instead, he expresses appreciation for the trust and support he has received in nearly four decades in law enforcement.

Mead, a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, had worked in Campbell County as a prosecutor early in his career. He said at the Nov. 9 press conference that he has known Pownall for decades and had supported his nomination this year when he was named peace officer of the year. However, the governor said it was his duty to direct the Attorney General’s Office to take action.

The Campbell County Commission issued a statement Wednesday saying county officials will release more information on Thursday about the appointment of an interim sheriff. The commission said it had no comment on Pownall’s resignation.

Campbell County Attorney Jeani Stone told the News-Record earlier this month that it wasn’t clear how the investigation might affect Pownall’s service in the Legislature. Attempts to reach Pownall, Stone and other county officials were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

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