Adair County commissioners replaced Sheriff Charles Hartshorne on Tuesday, declaring he had resigned in a phone message from Iraq.
Hartshorne has been collecting his $39,000 annual sheriff’s salary for weeks while out of state. Hartshorne went to Iraq in early April to train Iraq police after having been trained in Virginia and Texas for weeks for the Iraq job with DynCorp.
Hartshorne didn’t tell commissioners he had taken a job overseas and later wrote constituents that he would be still be a working sheriff from Iraq until he planned to retire in mid-June.
Adair County commissioners last week wanted Hartshorne to resign immediately or face impeachment proceedings. Hartshorne left a phone message for Adair County Commission Chairman Russell Turner on Saturday, saying he was resigning and that he had sent a letter to that effect, Adair County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones said Tuesday.
It was estimated it might take a couple of weeks for the letter to arrive in Stilwell. Commissioners met in executive session with Jones on Tuesday. Based upon the phone message, commissioners decided Hartshorne had resigned effective May 12, Jones said.
Commissioners wasted little time in naming Hartshorne’s replacement — retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and former Adair County Sheriff Gerald Coleman, 66. He was sworn in as county sheriff Tuesday afternoon.
“Gerald Coleman has taken office and is currently acting as sheriff,” Jones said. “The transition went as smoothly as possible with some exceptions.”
The exceptions included Undersheriff Tim McCollum and his wife, Karen, the Adair County Jail supervisor and dispatcher supervisor. Both resigned effective today but left their posts immediately after Coleman — accompanied by representatives of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Jones — said he was taking over as sheriff.
“I quit because I was sh-- on,” Tim McCollum said. “I busted my butt over two years down there and kept the department running ever since he (Hartshorne) went to Iraq.
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