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Former Creek County Sheriff's Office Investigator Charged With Embezzlement

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Leslie Ruhman. Leslie Ruhman.
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma -

He's helped put away Green Country criminals for years, but now a former Creek County Sheriff's detective is accused of being a criminal himself, stealing thousands of dollars in drug money.

Les Ruhman pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges Thursday.

Captain Ruhman didn't say a word in the courtroom, as his attorney entered that not guilty plea for him. But court documents suggest he'd been stealing from the sheriff's office for as many as seven years

Ruhman turned himself in to jail late Thursday afternoon after a brief appearance in court. He is accused of stealing $8,255 from the evidence room inside the Creek County Sheriff's Office, money that he potentially confiscated himself.

"Normally drug seizure money. Could possibly be evidence from a robbery, but more often than not, it's drug seizure money," said Tom Lee, the District Attorney for Payne and Logan Counties.

An affidavit says Ruhman was the only person with the combination to the evidence room safe. He'd been the watchdog over the safe since 2006.

Sheriff John Davis said Ruhman started acting suspicious as the sheriff's office prepared to move to a new location.

The affidavit shows the sheriff requested an audit of the evidence room in February, but by September, it still hadn't been completed. That's when the sheriff called on another detective to help with the audit.

When Ruhman and the other detective went to the evidence room, the affidavit says Ruhman stepped out to make a phone call and never came back.

According to court records, a few hours later, Ruhman's county vehicle was dropped off in front of the sheriff's office, unlocked, with both the keys and Ruhman's gun inside.

The affidavit says, when the sheriff finally found Ruhman, he was crying and told his boss, "You turned your back to me."

The sheriff called on the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into the case. According to court records, investigators found the stolen cash was connected to cases as far back as 1998.

Lee is prosecuting the case after the Creek County DA, Max Cook, recused himself last month.

"Because of his working relationship with the Creek County Sheriff's Office, he thought it would be best if someone else come in to prosecute," Lee said.

The sheriff issued this statement:

"An incident of this nature erodes the public trust and tarnishes the image of all law enforcement. I am deeply saddened and extremely disappointed in the conduct and alleged actions of Leslie Ruhman. Any time a law enforcement officer violates the public's trust, it brings disgrace to the agency and the law enforcement profession. Law enforcement officers are not above the law and the Creek County Sheriff's office will vigorously investigate those who break the law and violate the public's trust."

Ruhman's bond was set at $10,000. He bonded out immediately after being booked.

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