SALLISAW — The elected chief of police in Sallisaw is charged with embezzling public funds after he admitted to taking $80 in petty cash last year.
Chief Shaloa Edwards, 51, was arrested Friday and has posted bail.
The felony embezzlement charges come after city officials forwarded an internal investigation to the Sequoyah County district attorney's office in January.
During a Jan. 17 interview with investigators, Edwards admitted to investigators “he took the money (but) that he didn't think it was wrong,” an affidavit filed with the case states.
“He stated that he had taken money on three occasions, once 40 dollars and twice 20 dollars,” Sallisaw police Capt. Beau Gabbert wrote in the affidavit. “I asked him if he knew taking public funds was a crime and he stated that he didn't think of it that way.”
The investigation started after a civilian employee of the Sallisaw Police Department reported that Edwards had requested $20 from the petty cash drawer and then later left an IOU for $40 inside the cash box. The IOU was signed “Shaloa,” records show.
Gabbert also wrote that he questioned city employee Pat Allen, who was in charge of the petty cash drawer, and that her statements conflicted with things Edwards had told others.
“I asked her if she ever loaned anyone money from the drawer and she stated, ‘No,' that she was not going to lose her job for anyone,” Gabbert wrote.
“I asked her what about the chief (Edwards) and she stated, ‘No,' that she never had nor would she.”
Unlike most police chiefs in Oklahoma, Edwards was elected. City officials had to amend city code to strip Edwards of his supervisory powers, which they did in February.
Last month, Edwards filed a lawsuit against the city of Sallisaw and City Manager Bill Baker, claiming the Sallisaw City Commission sidestepped the city's charter when his powers were taken away. Baker now has police supervisory powers.