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Franklin County sheriff, deputy accused of professional misconduct

Two law enforcement leaders in Franklin County, Kansas, are facing criminal charges due to their alleged misconduct. The men will be mounting their criminal defense against the felony charges that they interfered with investigations, gave false reports and engaged in other official misconduct. The suspects include the county sheriff, along with one of his deputies, who is also the county's public information officer.

Sheriff's duties have been transferred to the local county clerk during the officer's time in jail. He is expected to return to duty after his release, though his reinstatement could be jeopardized by a petition designed to oust him from office. That petition was filed by the county's attorney shortly after the man's arrest. Local attorneys are calling for the sheriff to resign in the wake of the misconduct charges.

The sheriff has been employed with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department since 1994, and he was appointed sheriff in 2010. He was subsequently elected to the position in 2012.

County officials say they regret having to file the charges against the two men, but they have allegedly engaged in professional misconduct. Unfortunately, prosecutors have not released any information about the men's alleged wrongdoings.

Interfering with an investigation could involve activities such as misleading other authorities, obscuring or altering evidence. The sheriff and his deputy may be accused of attempting to protect a suspected criminal from judicial process by providing incorrect information, for example. False reporting charges could stem from deliberate inaccuracies in a formal report. Again, it is not clear why the men are under investigation by county officials.

The men's next legal step depends on the nature of the charges. They should carefully discuss the case with their personal attorneys, as the misconduct charges could conceivably cost them their jobs. Prosecutors have yet to reveal their body of evidence in connection with the case. That information will be a primary factor in deciding whether to enter a guilty or not-guilty plea.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Franklin County, Kan., sheriff and deputy are charged with misconduct," Matt Campbell, Feb. 27, 2013

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