Sheriff arrested for corruption

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An Oklahoma sheriff is facing serious charges and could be removed from office.

Love County Sheriff Joe Russell was on the job Wednesday after being arrested yesterday. He bonded out on his own recognizance.

We tried to talk to the long time sheriff as he went into work but he declined.

Russell is accused of corruption in office, willful neglect of duty and maladministration.

“I’ve heard some stories that things aren’t how they should be around here. Runs like Hazard County, you know, Dukes of Hazard,” said Charlie Kittrell, resident.

The first accusation of corruption in office is drug related. Court documents allege meth was used at the sheriff’s home by several individuals in the sheriff’s presence.

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 his 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 Cory Carlisle. Bamburg was arrested and taken to jail 3 days later.

The sheriff is also accused of willful maladministration by allowing James Conn Nipp, his nephew, to meet with family members alone. According to court records, Nipp was arrested following a chase in 2014. That case connected to the disappearance of 17-year-old Molly Miller and 21-year-old Colt Haynes.

“Elected officials especially should be held to a higher standard when they break the law,” said Kittrell.

Love county resident Diane Gilbert stays she’s not surprised Russell was arrested.

“He should have been. He’s a crook. Always has been,” said Gilbert.

But other residents say he’s innocent until proven guilty. Posting support online saying “I think Mr. Russell is doing his job by upholding the law and doing his duties.”

The multi county jury is asking that Russell be immediately suspended. There’s an emergency hearing scheduled August for that purpose.

Russell will be formally charged Tuesday.

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