Wyo. investigates Sweetwater Co. sheriff

Ben Neary

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, July 30 2011 11:15 p.m. MDT

Rich Haskell

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Wyoming state criminal investigators have begun probing expenditures by Sweetwater County's sheriff, including the possibility that he used state funds to hire family members, officials said Wednesday.

Casper District Attorney Mike Blonigen said the investigation centers on Sheriff Rich Haskell's hiring family members. Blonigen said he will review the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation report when it's completed, but didn't know when that will be.

The Rock Springs Rocket-Miner reported last month that the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office spent $4,200 on greeting cards from 2007-2010, and $47,000 for security services last summer with a Utah company owned by Haskell's son and daughter-in-law.

Sweetwater County Attorney Brett Johnson issued a news release Wednesday announcing the DCI investigation. He stated that local authorities aren't leading the probe because of conflict of interest concerns. Johnson declined to comment on the subject of the investigation.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Dick Blust said Wednesday that Haskell had no comment.

"We talked about it this morning, and we agreed generally as there is an active investigation ongoing, we won't be making any comment," Blust said.

The Rocket-Miner reported last month that payments from the sheriff's office went to Simply You Creations in Eagle Mountain, Utah. The newspaper reported Haskell said the company is owned by his son and daughter-in-law.

Haskell told the newspaper that he gave his employees personalized cards on their birthdays and anniversaries. He also said his son had coordinated a suicide watch at a Utah hospital for a Wyoming murder suspect who was being held there.

Blonigen said he couldn't discuss specifics of the investigation.

Blonigen said the investigation doesn't involve any other officers in the department.

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