Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm has been suspended from office, effective immediately. Helm faces two charges of embezzlement, and a multi-county grand jury started the process to remove him from office.
Helm's attorney argued unsuccessfully earlier in the day that the effort to remove him from office isn't legal. The judge said that motion is without merit.
The multi-county grand jury issued two indictments against Helm on Friday, August 28, 2015. They include one count of embezzlement exceeding $1,000 and one count of embezzlement exceeding $500.
Despite the charges, Helm has continued to attend meetings and conduct county business. However, Tuesday morning, a judge ordered that to stop, suspending Helm without pay.
Right after the hearing, Helm walked down to his office, which is on the first floor of the courthouse, to pack up his personal belongings. He's accused of selling county property and keeping the cash.
The indictment accuses Helm of selling the bed of a 2009 GMC pickup owned by the county to a private citizen in May of 2014 and keeping the money.
While he's awaiting trial for embezzlement, a multi-county grand jury issued an "accusation for removal," which is the start of a legal process to take Helm out of office. It requires a judge to have a trial, and Helm's attorney are tried to stop it saying the multi-county grand jury doesn't have jurisdiction.
The judge said the court finds the breaches of public trust laid out in the affidavit to be egregious.And said the accusations are so significant immediate suspension is necessary.
Helm didn't say a word to reporters, but he smiled as he carried his things outside. He drove his county-owned truck to court and was ordered to surrender that along with a number of other items.
Tuesday's hearing was a civil case. He has not appeared yet for the criminal charges against him. As of now, there is a pre-trial set for later this month to decide if Helm will be removed from office.