A hearing on the possible suspension of Carbon County Sheriff Barry R. Bryner began Monday, focusing on charges that he misused public money and conducted an improper relationship with an employee.

Defense attorney Ron Yengich called the allegations "frivolous" and "a witch hunt" in which Bryner's personal life is on trial."There are people unhappy with the sheriff's election who have brought concerted efforts to dislodge him without pursuing appropriate remedies," Yengich said.

The defense attorney said Bryner's accusers "have placed him under microscopic examination, making it impossible to perform an already tough job." Security was tight in the Carbon County Courthouse.

In his opening statement William Flink, investigator for the Peace Officers Standards and Training, said the division will prove Bryner conducted his personal and professional life in a manner to diminish and jeopardize public trust in law enforcement. Flink contended that Bryner has discredited himself and made false statements to the media, while under oath and under administrative warning.

Flink said that Bryner has made false statements to his superiors and dispatchers regarding his location and made false entries on law enforcement logs. He has been disciplined twice for conduct involving false statements and has involved himself in a relationship with a female employee of his office. It was in connection with this relationship that the public money was misused, Flink said.

"He has created a significant potential for civil and criminal liability for Carbon County government," Flink said.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Gerald Cowan testified about events of May 28, 1987 - high school graduation night - when the sheriff allegedly tried to create the impression there were more law enforcement officers on duty than there actually were.

During his rebuttal, Yengich said the sheriff had been placed in a difficult position because of a lack of manpower and office help, and that he had tried to cope with the situation.

Carbon County Clerk Norman Prichard testified that in October 1987, Bryner asked for a travel advance to go Kane County for a conference on criminal interdiction. Prichard said he learned through a chance telephone conversation that no such meeting was held. He said he later received a call from the Kane County Sheriff verifying that Bryner had been in Kane County.