OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma County commissioners have voted to further investigate a sheriff rather than seek his immediate suspension from office over an audit that was critical of mismanaged funds.
The audit found that Sheriff John Whetsel's office, among other things, didn't pay contracts for inmate health care services even though money was available. About $900,000 was spent on sheriff's office vehicles even though other financial obligations had not been met, and the office accepted a donation of Whetsel's personal vehicle without approval by the Board of County Commissioners.
Armor Correctional Health Services Inc., which provided inmates with health care, filed a breach of contract lawsuit over unpaid bills. The company was awarded $3.3 million in June.
Whetsel had asked commissioners to take no action against him, citing that he was re-elected Tuesday despite the audit findings, The Oklahoman reported.
"There was no money missing. There were no funds embezzled," Whetsel said. "Our citizens, armed with the same information you have today, made their decision and returned me to office. I ask you to please not trample on the will of the citizens of Oklahoma County."
Whetsel said he accepted responsibility for his actions, and that the office is working to address the items in the audit. He also added that medical bills were not paid in the past because of unprecedented income loss from the state Corrections Department.
District Attorney David Prater said a criminal investigation he is conducting into the audit findings could be completed in two to six months.