Sunday, April 20, 2008


A sheriff behaving badly — very badly

The Associated Press tells us about Sex Charges Against a Sheriff in Oklahoma:

The authorities have charged a western Oklahoma sheriff with coercing and bribing female inmates so he could use them in a sex-slave operation run out of his jail. The sheriff, Mike Burgess of Custer County, resigned, just as state prosecutors filed 35 felony charges against him, including 14 counts of second-degree rape, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy and five counts of bribery by a public official. Mr. Burgess, the top officer in the county of 26,000 people since 1994, appeared in court and was released after posting $50,000 bail. Among other things, he is accused of having sex with a female drug court participant who was in his custody. The crimes are said to have occurred between October 2005 and April 2007. Mr. Burgess also faces two counts each of sexual battery, rape by instrumentation and subornation of perjury, and engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses, indecent exposure and kidnapping.

Much more detail, much more disgusting detail, is in an item from ABC affiliate KTRK. That item also points out that Sheriff Burgess “could face up to 467 years in jail if convicted.”

Well, yes, that’d be the sum of the maximum penalties for the 35 felony charges. Still, it’s clear that if he’s guilty of even a fraction of what he’s charged with — and it seems unlikely, given the situation, that he’s not — he should spend the rest of his life at hard labour in prison.

But will he? I aim to keep an eye on this one. It’s possible that it’ll be handled properly, but I have some vague feeling that much of it will disappear, and that Michael Burgess will not get what he should from this.

And I just have to add another bit. The Sheriff has (or had) a web page, which is now down (the message I get claims that it’s exceeded its allowed bandwidth). Happily, there’s Google’s search cache, so we can see what he had to say about himself during happier times:

Sheriff Burgess began his law enforcement career in 1972 with the Edmond Police Department. He started as a patrolman and advanced to the rank of sergeant and was the supervisor of the canine division.

Mike left the Edmond Police Department in 1979 and began work in the oilfields of Oklahoma. He left that line of work in 1984.

In 1985, Mike re-entered the law enforcement field by working for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Enforcement and Investigation Division and stayed with them until 1992.

In 1993, Mike started with the Custer County Sheriff’s Office as the Undersheriff for Sheriff Richard Mueller. In 1994, after the untimely death of Sheriff Mueller, Mike was apppointed Sheriff to fulfill Sheriff Mueller’s unexpired term. Sheriff Burgess appointed 20 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office Boyd O’Dell as his Undersheriff.

Sheriff Burgess ran for election in 1995 and won by a large margin. Mike started his first full term as Sheriff of Custer County in 1996. Sheriff Burgess was re-elected in 2000 and 2004.

Mike is married to Brenda and they live on the outskirts of Clinton, Oklahoma. Mike and Brenda are the proud grandparents of Kadence, Chantelle, Chandler, Camden, Kylee, Casen, Macauly and Jace. Mike’s hobbies include hunting and playing golf when he gets the chance.

Sheriff Burgess is a proud member of the National Sheriff’s Association, a board member of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association, a member of the Southwest Oklahoma Peace Officers Association, member of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association and a member of the Clinton, Oklahoma Noon Lions Club.

Sheriff Burgess always has time to talk with his constituents and would like to invite them to “come set a spell” and drink a cup of coffee with him.

Yes, why not “come set a spell”... nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Follow up: Burgess was convicted of 13 counts in January 2009, and was sentenced to 79 years in prison on 24 March 2009.

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