WAGONER, Okla. (AP) - The Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office is being investigated for improper use of public funds after a three-year countywide audit brought up concerns, according to officials from the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office.
State Auditor Gary Jones and auditor’s spokesman Trey Davis told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1GUKzLy ) that the report at least partly focuses on allegations that Sheriff Bob Colbert used county funds for self-promotion and personal use.
Wagoner County authorized the purchase of more than $4,500 in hats and engraved coins bearing Colbert’s name, which were distributed and sold at events, according to documents obtained by the newspaper. The county also approved the purchase of a $185 cowboy hat classified as “work wear,” 1,000 coloring books and a $330 GPS monitor that’s reportedly not in the county’s inventory, the documents show.
“Some (concerns) were brought to our attention, and some were brought as the result of the audit,” Davis said, adding that the office is determining whether those purchases and the use of drug-buy money were a proper use of county funds.
Wagoner County Commissioners Chairman Tim Kelley said he’s unable to comment on the state auditor’s findings until the report is complete. But he said commissioners aware that Colbert’s name would appear on the engraved medallions.
“The county clerks are pretty much the police of making legal purchases,” Kelley said. “Chances are they didn’t know it, either. If I decided I needed 1,000 tons of gravel, I’d call the County Clerk’s Office and tell them. They encumber the money and give me a purchase order number, and we call the vendor and order it. More likely than not, that’s already on the road before it comes across the Board of County Commissioners.”
Colbert said at a Wednesday press conference that he’s angered by the allegations against him and his office. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the state auditor’s office previously have cleared him of some claims, including accusations that he purchased a battery for his personal vehicle with county funds, Colbert said.
At the press conference, Colbert also denied that he and other Sheriff’s Office employees had falsified continuing education records. He declined to answer questions or comment further on the allegations.
Jones will submit his findings of the audit, which began in early 2015 and is expected to be complete next month, to the Wagoner County District Attorney’s Office for consideration “if anything rises to the level of concern that might be of a criminal nature.”
Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com
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