Love County sheriff accused of corruption pleads not guilty

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Sheriff Joe Russell

MARIETTA, Okla. – An Oklahoma sheriff who is accused of corruption pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Love County Sheriff Joe Russell was arrested last week for corruption in office, willful neglect of duty and maladministration.

The corruption allegations stem from an incident in which the sheriff allowed several individuals to use meth inside his own home in his presence, court documents state.

Russell is also accused of willful neglect of duty.

Grand jurors alleged the sheriff let a fugitive, Sara Bamburg, stay at his house for a couple of weeks last year even though she had four warrants out for her arrest.

Bamburg was dating the sheriff’s son at the time.

She told investigators that the sheriff’s son told her “You’ve got warrants and as long as you are here dating me, you are not going to get arrested.”

Shortly after that, Bamburg broke up with the sheriff’s son and moved in with someone else.

Bamburg was arrested and taken to jail three days later.

The sheriff is also accused of willful maladministration by allowing his nephew, James Conn Nipp, a man who investigators believe is connected to a missing persons case, to meet with family members unsupervised in a room with evidence.

The multi-county jury is asking that Russell be immediately suspended.

There’s an emergency hearing scheduled August for that purpose.

Russell pleaded not guilty to the charges at his formal arraignment Tuesday morning.

After he was arrested, Russell was released on his own recognizance.

A hearing is set for next Tuesday.