- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A jury will determine next month if the Sublette County sheriff should be removed from his position for alleged misconduct in office.

The Wyoming Attorney General filed a petition in March in Sublette County District Court requesting the removal of Stephen Haskell from office because of misconduct. The civil case will go to trial June 6.

The Attorney General’s action came after the Sublette County commissioners submitted a verified complaint to the governor requesting Haskell’s removal from office. The complaint references criminal allegations against Haskell, which say he made unauthorized purchases with county money before he was sworn in. The commissioners also state they are concerned about a hostile work environment at the sheriff’s office.

The county commissioners ask that Haskell be temporarily removed as sheriff while the criminal charges are pending, the Casper Star Tribune reported (https://tinyurl.com/hroqhos).

Gov. Matt Mead reviewed the verified complaint and determined “it appears that Haskell is guilty of misconduct or malfeasance in office,” the petition for Haskell’s removal states.

Haskell, through his attorney H. Michael Bennett, filed a response to the petition on May 10. His response states he denies any wrongdoing, criminal or otherwise.

Haskell faces charges of obtaining property by false pretenses, buying or receiving stolen property, false claim or voucher, public officer performing duty before qualifying and official committing an unauthorized act. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges March 16. A trial date on the criminal charges has not yet been set.

According to charging documents, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation was assigned to look into Haskell’s actions in September after the Sublette County Commissioners wrote the agency asking for an investigation into “criminal wrongdoing” by the sheriff.

The criminal charges allege Haskell ordered more than $11,000 worth of equipment before taking office and then altered invoices to show he made the purchases after being sworn in.

On a recorded phone call obtained by police, Haskell allegedly asks a vendor to change invoice dates after the county commission told him items that he ordered before taking office would not be paid for by the county.

According to the complaint, Haskell ordered sheriff’s office employees to shred documents relating to the purchases.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com


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