- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

BOWBELLS, N.D. (AP) - The Burke County Commission will prepare a severance package to offer its embattled sheriff as an incentive to resign.

The Minot Daily News reports (https://bit.ly/YkyvVH ) that officials decided Friday to craft the severance package for Sheriff Michael Crude. The commission said it plans to meet again next week to review the package before offering it.

Commissioners have been looking into allegations of a hostile work environment at Cude’s office. He has faced allegations of employee harassment and has had his actions questioned regarding employee removals and disciplinary actions.

Cude has said he is just trying to do his job and denies all allegations.

A group of Burke County residents submitted a petition to start the process to have their sheriff removed. But Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the paperwork lacked any proof of allegations against the sheriff.



“Since any governor’s removal process likely could not be concluded before the November 2014 general election and the wishes of the voters will thus resolve the issue, removal by the county commission is the only mechanism capable of addressing your concerns prior to the election,” Stenehjem wrote in an opinion.

Residents and the commission had gone the petition route because of the belief that state law did not allow a commission to remove a sheriff. State law allows for the governor to remove certain public officials in situations involving misconduct, malfeasance, crime in office, neglect of duty or gross incompetency.

Cude is up for re-election in November, facing former deputy Shawn Brien, who outpolled him in the June primary 246 votes to 189. The top two finishers in the primary moved on to the general election.

Cude has been sheriff since late May, when the commission appointed him to replace Barry Jager, who resigned to take another county position. Ryberg objected to Cude’s hiring but was outvoted.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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