Nowata County Sheriff Arrested On Embezzlement Complaint

Wednesday, October 17th 2018, 12:41 pm
By: News On 6

The Nowata County Sheriff has been arrested, News On 6 has confirmed.

Sheriff Kenny Freeman is in the Washington County Jail after two OSBI agents arrested him on a single count of embezzlement. It's a felony complaint because the value of the property is over $1,000, according to Nowata and Washington County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan.

According to an arrest affidavit, Freeman embezzled supplies meant for schools in Nowata County. The affidavit says the sheriff's office asked the Bartlesville Walmart for supplies to be donated to schools across the county. Some of the schools made their own arrangements, the affidavit says, but the Nowata County Sheriff's Office picked up two pallets of supplies for Nowata Schools and South Coffeyville Schools. 

The affidavit says the two pallets contained supplies -- including lunchboxes, crayons and coloring books -- valued at $7,278.51. 

The affidavit says one of the Walmart employees who helped organize the donation then reported seeing some of the items in the booth the sheriff's office had set up at the Nowata County Fair.

The affidavit says the sheriff's office's Facebook page included mentions of the supplies being given away at the fair. The page also included a photo of donated lunchboxes on a table next to a sign that read "Vote to keep Sheriff Kenny Freeman."

Freeman's term in office has been marked by controversy since he was first appointed in February 2018.

He told us he's held several jobs in Nowata County over the last 18 years, working as a dispatcher and a deputy. He was employed as a janitor at the courthouse when he was appointed sheriff. 

Since that time, he has been accused of poor management and training of employees.

9/17/2018 Related Story: Nowata County Jailer Arrested After Hours-Long Chase

Freeman told us four deputies walked out on him on his first day. A mistake let an inmate walk free for almost two days in late February, causing former sheriff Jim Hallett to complain about the way the jail was being run. 

In May, Nowata Fire Department Chief Stephen Parmenter filed a statement with the city manager after a dispatcher paged Bartlesville for an ambulance even though the fire chief said his department had one ready to go.

Then in July, there were allegations of a 911 dispatcher sleeping on the job with emergency calls going unanswered. The sheriff said he placed the dispatcher on probation and wrote her up.

A jailer was arrested in September following a domestic disturbance and pursuit.

Nowata County Commissioners expressed their support for Freeman in August 2018.