Troubled former Woodward County sheriff files for office

Former Woodward County Sheriff Les Morton, who was placed on probation for embezzlement in office, was one of four candidates to file for Woodward County sheriff on Wednesday.
by Randy Ellis Published: April 12, 2012
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WOODWARD — Former Woodward County Sheriff Les Morton, who was placed on probation for embezzlement in office, was one of four candidates to file for Woodward County sheriff on Wednesday.

Also filing were incumbent Sheriff Gary Stanley, 61, as well as Joe Adams, 59, and Monty Martin, 52. All the candidates are from Woodward. Morton and Stanley are Republicans, while Adams and Martin are Democrats.

Morton, 58, received a one-year deferred sentence in 2009 after entering a negotiated Alford plea to a five-count embezzlement charge.

An Alford plea is a plea where the defendant does not admit the criminal act and claims innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists that a judge or jury likely would find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Morton later tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea.

A deferred sentence is not considered a conviction.

The embezzlement charge stemmed from Morton using a county vehicle and county Fuelman credit card to purchase fuel while using the vehicle outside the county on several occasions in 2005 and 2006. He was not on county-related business at the time.

Last December, the Oklahoma attorney general's office asked that Morton be found in contempt of court for failing to pay court costs and restitution.

Morton was ordered to pay $878.66 in restitution and $1,665 in unpaid courts costs. A payment schedule was worked out. Morton paid $690 in March, but has been late in making payments, court records show.

Morton could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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