Oklahoma sheriff accused of corruption to voluntarily suspend himself from office

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LOVE COUNTY, Okla. - An Oklahoma sheriff who is accused of corruption has agreed to voluntarily suspend himself from office.

Love County Sheriff Joe Russell was in court Tuesday for an emergency hearing to remove him from office.

However, since an agreement was made, the hearing was waived.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office agreed to let Russell voluntarily suspend himself.

The request was filed by a multi-county grand jury.

Russell, 62, was arrested for corruption in office, willful neglect of duty and maladministration.

In addition to the voluntary suspension, the court also approved a gag order requested by Russell's Attorney Gary Brown.

“That means members of either team are not allowed to feed information to prejudice the public against the other side,” Brown said.

Brown said the defense may consider asking the judge to move the case to another county for trial in addition to the gag order.

“Because you guys are killing us on the TV. It’s just not fair. Sheriff Russell has not had a chance to tell his side of the story, and our jury pool is being polluted and poisoned, and that’s not fair to my client,” Brown said.

Some residents of Love County feel the sheriff isn’t getting a fair shake.

“As far as I know, he's always been a good guy,” said Peter Brent.

But, others said corruption in the county has gone on for too long.

“That's what they are supposed to be fighting against is that kind of stuff,” said one resident.

County commissioners must now accept Russell's letter of resignation and make the suspension official.

A special meeting has been called Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

If approved, commissioners will likely appoint an interim sheriff to take over while Russell's case makes it way through the legal system.

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