PITTSBURG COUNTY - A judge in Okmulgee County denied a motion by attorneys for former Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert to quash the state's criminal case, and ended his final shot at returning to office. He will go to trial.
District Judge Ken Adair denied a defense motion to quash Thursday afternoon. Colbert's attorneys said in their court filing of Nov. 17, the state filed its response after regular business hours on Nov. 16, saying the state would file its response the following day. The filing states that the state's response contained what Colbert's attorneys considered "factual assertions that are inaccurate, misleading and/ or misstated." Colbert's attorneys asked for the opportunity to point out and clarify each of the state's inaccurate assertions.
Colbert's attorneys requested the court grand a motion to quash the state's response, or to strike the response altogether.
Had Adair found in favor of Colbert, prosecutor Jack Thorp says the former sheriff could have been reinstated to office for the remainder of his term.
In March 2016, a multi-county grand jury convened by Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrapped up a months-long investigation after a state audit turned up financial irregularities, and after an investigation by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation into allegations Colbert forced deputies to sign him in at required training, he did not attend.
The grand jury investigation ended with an accusation for removal and three felony indictments stemming from a December 2014 traffic stop in which witnesses said Colbert accepted $10,000 in exchange for the release of a suspected drug dealer. He was not charged with anything related to his training records.
Facing a hearing to legally remove him from office, Colbert suspended himself in April.
Sheriff Chris Elliott was sworn in as interim sheriff in July after winning a June election. The term for which Colbert was elected ends on Jan. 3, 2017. Elliott, a 27-year-veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, will be sworn in as Wagoner County Sheriff in January.
Proceedings for Colbert's cases are taking place in Pittsburg and Okmulgee County after two Wagoner County judges removed themselves.
Colbert has said he never used county funds for his own benefit and he never forced anyone to sign him in to CLEET-required training. His attorneys have said he is not guilty of the charges against him.
A trial date will be set.
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