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Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel signs letter of retirement

OKLAHOMA COUNTY - Stapled, stamped and signed by County Clerk David Hotten makes it official: the retirement of Sheriff John Whetsel.

Less than 90 days after being re-elected, Whetsel will leave office at the end of the month.

Whetsel said in his letter, "I apologize to those who may feel I have let them down by my retirement. This is not my intent. I am doing what I think is best for the future of the sheriff`s office."

County Commission Chairman Brian Maughn said he did not know Whetsel's plans and it puts the county in a tough spot: the task of a special election.

"It's a sad day for the county. It's going to cost us a lot of money. I think about $300,000, which we don't have lying around," Maughn said.

Commissioners votes allow Whetsel to keep his job pending the continued investigation into a controversial audit.

Whetsel maintains he made mistakes but did nothing illegal when he chose not to pay a medical provider even though his office had the funds.

The provider sued and was awarded $3.3 million.

The audit also revealed Whetsel spent $900,000 on vehicles when other financial obligations were not met.

In his letter, he went on to say "I am convinced that new leadership is required to solve the problems with the jail and overall funding of the many responsibilities of the sheriff's office."

Maughn called for Whetsel's suspension months ago.

He said the retirement is needed for the county to move forward.

"He obviously had a big cloud of suspicion hanging over him. There was unanimous vote by the commissioners to charge the district attorney to investigate his office and some repairs he made, and so that was in the room every time we met for the budget board and different things," Maughn said.

Once leaving office, the undersheriff will take over as interim sheriff.

The governor will set a date for special election.