Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has requested an investigative audit into the Oklahoma County sheriff and his administrative staff over alleged mismanagement of funds.
News 9 confirmed Prater hand-delivered the request to Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.
Jones confirmed he will be assembling a team to look into the allegations.
Some of the accusations include whether Sheriff John Whetsel and his administrative staff violated Oklahoma law.
There are seven items in total including, whether Whetsel and his staff created a debt by entering into contracts with vendors or service providers, and then willfully effusing to pay those contracts with available appropriations or special revenue funds.
Another question is whether the sheriff and his staff provided false or misleading information to the Oklahoma County District Court in their request to set per diem rates for county inmates and if they expended all sources of funding in a lawful manner.
The DA also asked the auditor to determine whether the sheriff and or his staff "paid outstanding debt or contract balances for a specific fiscal year with subsequent fiscal year funds"
And among other money-related matters, the DA asked the auditor to find out "whether there is any relationship between individuals granted a Special or Reserve Deputy position and campaign contributions made by the individual to the Sheriff's campaign fund."
Oklahoma County Sheriff Whetsel released the following statement Wednesday night:
I was just as surprised as anyone to learn of this request through a breaking news alert. Even though I spoke to David Prater twice on Tuesday, he did not have the courtesy to mention this at all, which makes me question motives and intentions.
On behalf of myself and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, we welcome this inquiry and will cooperate completely with the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office, just as we do all year long, every year.
Nothing wrong has been done and we have absolutely nothing to hide. The Sheriff does not, nor does any individual County Officer, execute any contracts or make payments on behalf of the County. By law, contracts are executed by the Board of County Commissioners. The County Treasurer and County Clerk handle all deposits of funds and payments. Answers to financial questions are routinely provided by the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office. These internal controls are long established and work well.
The State Auditor and Inspector’s Office audits Oklahoma County Government, including the Sheriff’s Office, every year and just completed an audit for the last fiscal year.
As you are aware, this is an election year and the time when crazy political attacks occur. The reason this surprises me so much is that it is by the person who is responsible by law to represent me and the Sheriff’s Office. Yes, I have occasionally questioned the quality of the D.A.’s advice and representation recently, as have other County Officials, yet we follow that advice and the law each and every day. We always will!
I am an honest and dedicated law enforcement officer in my 48th year of service. This attack is deeply personal and reprehensible. I will continue to faithfully do my job providing law enforcement services and protecting the citizens of Oklahoma County.