SALLISAW — The police chief of a small eastern Oklahoma town has confessed to taking less than $100 in city funds, although he told investigators he didn't see anything wrong with it.
Sallisaw Police Chief Shaloa Edwards is being investigated for leaving an IOU for $40 inside a petty cash drawer at the police station.
The chief also told investigators that he took money two other times, $20 in both instances.
A written statement by Sallisaw police Capt. Beau Gabbert indicates that Edwards was questioned last week.
Gabbert wrote that Edwards admitted to taking the money but that “he didn't think it was wrong.”
“He stated that had taken money on three occasions … once forty dollars and twice twenty dollars,” Gabbert wrote. “I asked him if he knew taking public funds was a crime and he stated that he didn't think of it that way.”
Edwards, an elected official in Sallisaw, is still on the job, City Manager Bill Baker said.
Baker said because Edwards is an elected official, he cannot be suspended or disciplined for violating a city policy.
“He works for the people,” Baker said.
According to documents released by Sallisaw city officials, a civilian employee working at the police station alerted authorities to the questionable petty cash withdrawals made by Edwards in November.
The cash withdrawals had not been paid back by the first week of January, city documents show.
The same employee, Randy Freeman, later called Edwards and asked him about the withdrawals from the petty cash drawer. The conversation was monitored and recorded by the Sallisaw Police Department.
Baker said it is against Sallisaw city policy to take public funds for personal use.
An investigative report prepared by the Sallisaw Police Department has been forwarded to the Sequoyah County district attorney's office.
Baker said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation declined to investigate the incident.
“It's basically in their hands now,” Baker said of the district attorney's office.
Sequoyah County District Attorney Brian Kuester said his office received the report from the Sallisaw Police Department last week but that “no decisions have been made” on whether formal charges will be filed.
Edwards did not return phone messages seeking comment for this story.
Sallisaw is less than 25 miles from the Arkansas border. The city has a population of about 9,000.