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Oklahoma sheriff indicted on bribery and extortion charges

TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - An Oklahoma sheriff and a sheriff’s office captain on Thursday were indicted on felony charges including allegations of accepting a bribe in exchange for allowing suspected drug dealers go free after being arrested.

A multi-county grand jury indicted Wagoner County Sheriff Robert Colbert and Captain Jeff Gragg on charges that could bring up to 25 years in prison each.

According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, Gragg found $10,000 in a search of a vehicle during a routine traffic stop. The two people in the car were arrested for possession of drug proceeds.

However, after being taken to the Wagoner County Jail, they were released without any additions to their records and the money was deposited in the sheriff’s drug forfeiture account.

The grand jury said the sheriff and the captain extorted the money from the pair to help fund the account used by the office.

In a prepared media statement, Colbert’s attorney refuted the grand jury’s accusations that the money went missing.

“The funds are not missing and are accounted for,” Michon Hughes said.

“The sheriff’s office timely deposited every cent of this money in the county treasurer’s account as required by state law. This money was earmarked for fighting drug trafficking to help protect the citizens.”

Wagoner County is immediately southeast of Tulsa. Nearly six months ago, former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was indicted on multiple misdemeanor counts following the fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect by a reserve deputy.

Reporting by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio