NORMAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma sheriff has dropped his lawsuit against county commissioners and says he’s retiring.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester didn’t cite a reason for his decision to retire in his announcement Monday, the Norman Transcript reported. In a letter, he told county commissioners that his retirement is effective immediately.

“I got a texted and emailed (a) letter where Joe is resigning immediately with his signature, and our attorneys were contacted by his attorney saying that he is dismissing the lawsuit,” said Darry Stacy, a county commissioner.

Lester’s retirement comes after the release of a state audit that identified problems, including possible mismanagement, over-expenditure of public funds and noncompliance with state law.

Lester filed the lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners in March, contending that commissioners weren’t providing adequate funding as required by state law. County commissioners say depositions and a civil lawsuit trial scheduled for this week have been cancelled.

“We regret that the situation has come to this,” Stacy said. “Cleveland County has a bright future, and we are committed to working with the fine men and women in the Cleveland County Sheriff’s office to ensure a smooth transition.”

Stacy said Undersheriff Rhett Burnett has taken the sheriff position by default.

Commissioners are planning to request that the governor set a special election for the next sheriff. It’ll likely coincide with the November 2018 general election.


Information from: The Norman Transcript, http://www.normantranscript.com

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