Sheriff indicted in Woodward County

Thursday, March 27th 2008, 3:10 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

A Woodward County grand jury called for the removal of Sheriff Les Morton on Thursday as it issued a 20-count indictment accusing the official of illegally pocketing travel claim money.

The 54-year-old Morton appeared before District Judge Ray Dean Linder, who set bail at $100,000.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office was the legal adviser to the grand jury, which accused Morton in the indictment of taking more than $10,000 in expense money while driving a car provided to him by the county.

The indictment was unsealed Thursday morning, as was the grand jury's recommendation that he be removed from office for corruption and willful neglect of duty.

Morton was accused of filing "false, fictitious or fraudulent" travel claims between July 2003 and February 2005.

The indictment includes 20 alternative counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain property by trick or deception, false statements or pretenses.

Morton is accused of willful neglect of duty for allegedly refusing to address costs incurred for the housing of Woodward County inmates in the Woods County Jail and for demonstrating a "pattern of conduct unbecoming an elected official."

The corruption in office allegations mirror the false travel claims charges in the criminal indictment.

Morton was elected county sheriff in 1998.

"It is always regrettable when a law enforcement officer is accused of violating the laws he has sworn to uphold," Edmondson said.

"A Woodward County grand jury, comprised of Woodward County citizens, found probable cause to issue the indictment and call for removal. It is now up to the courts to determine the outcome of this case."