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Wagoner Co. Sheriff Bob Colbert suspended

Posted: 10:51 AM, Apr 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-06 21:42:51-04
Wagoner Co. Sheriff Bob Colbert suspended
Wagoner Co. Sheriff Bob Colbert suspended

WAGONER COUNTY, Okla. - Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert has been voluntarily suspended from office after a multi-county grand jury handed down three felony indictments last week.

The attorney general's office agrees with the sheriff's decision. The Wagoner County Commission has the power to appoint an interim sheriff.

Colbert was originally set for a hearing Wednesday on the accusation of removal from office and for immediate suspension requested by the attorney general, but he took the matter into his own hands.

"He is the sheriff of this county right now and will be the sheriff of this county until removed by a jury after a jury trial," says Colbert's attorney, Gary James.

James says Colbert will be paid by taxpayers until a court formally removes him.

During his district court appearance, Colbert denied the bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges against him.

Colbert and Capt. Jeffrey Gragg are accused of taking $10,000 in suspected drug proceeds in exchange for the release of a felon from custody in 2014. Torell Wallace was arrested on federal drug charges one month after he was released in Wagoner County.

The multicounty grand jury indictment alleges Gragg held the cash for two days, then opened a special account with the Wagoner County treasurer where he deposited it. In Wagoner County, cash seized by law enforcement is placed in an established Unforfeited Funds Account. The officer files paperwork with the district attorney, who files a civil forfeiture lawsuit. Funds that are forfeited through the courts are split between the district attorney and the arresting agency.

The grand jury indictment says the money confiscated from Wallace was not turned over to the district attorney until two days after Gragg's grand jury testimony - nearly a year after the money was seized. 

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant in the sheriff's office last week. Agent Jeremy Yerton said in a sworn statement that probable cause existed to search county computers that house dash cam video for Gragg's drug interdiction patrol car. Major Gary Handley told state investigators that video of the incident involving the $10,000 cash was missing the audio portion. The OSBI will determine whether audio existed on the original video.

Colbert says he will fight the charges. A jury will determine whether he should be formally removed. 

With Colbert's suspension, the undersheriff takes on the duties of sheriff until county commissioners appoint another leader. The commission's next regularly-scheduled meeting is Monday.

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